Denis Meuthen

Denis Meuthen
Bielefeld University · Evolutionary Biology

PhD
Freigeist fellow investigating the role of phenotypic plasticity in evolution.

About

31
Publications
7,466
Reads
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303
Citations
Introduction
My current research focuses on the reasons for variation in phenotypic plasticity, on the extent of transgenerational plasticity as well as on the role of plasticity in evolution. In my research, I aim to comprehensively study antipredator plasticity, ranging from the genotype and the epigenotype to the different aspects of the phenotype: behavior, morphology, physiology and life-history. For this purpose, I use Pelvicachromis taeniatus, Pimephales promelas and Physella acuta as model systems.
Additional affiliations
January 2020 - June 2022
Bielefeld University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
July 2017 - July 2019
University of Saskatchewan
Position
  • PostDoc Position
March 2011 - June 2017
University of Bonn
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
September 2007 - October 2010
University of Bonn
Field of study
  • Biology
September 2004 - March 2007
University of Cologne
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (31)
Article
Full-text available
Many animal species are able to perceive light wavelengths beyond those visible to humans. While numerous species are additionally sensitive to short wavelengths (UV), long wavelengths such as the near-infrared spectrum (NIR) are supposed to be unsuitable for visual perception. Here, we experimentally show that under exclusive NIR illumination, the...
Article
Full-text available
The ability of organisms to plastically respond to changing environments is well studied. However, variation in phenotypic plasticity during ontogeny is less well understood despite its relevance of being an important source of phenotypic variation in nature. Here, we comprehensively study ontogenetic variation in morphological antipredator plastic...
Article
Inclusive fitness theory predicts that individuals can increase their indirect fitness by grouping with kin. However, kin grouping also increases competition between kin, which potentially outweighs its benefits. The level of kin competition is contingent on environmental conditions and thus highly variable. Hence, individuals should benefit from p...
Article
Full-text available
Vertebrate cellular immunity displays substantial variation among taxa and environments. Hematological parameters such as white blood-cell counts have emerged as a valuable tool to understand this variation by assessing the immunological status of individuals. These tools have long revealed that vertebrate cellular immune systems are highly plastic...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Individuals can estimate risk by integrating prenatal with postnatal and personal information, but the relative importance of different information sources during the transgenerational response is unclear. The estimated level of risk can be tested using the cognitive rule of risk allocation, which postulates that under consistent high-...
Article
Die nichtgenetische Vererbung wurde lange vernachlässigt, stellt sich aber heutzutage als wichtiges Forschungsthema heraus. Die Übermittlung von Nährstoffen, Hormonen, Immunzellen, Epiallelen und eine veränderte Brutpflege kann zu einer vorteilhaften Anpassung der Nachkommen an die Umwelt führen. Nur wenig flukturierende, langfristig gut vorhersagb...
Article
Recent studies show that bisphenol S (BPS) induces multiple adverse effects in exposed organisms; however, the maternal effects of BPS exposure remain poorly understood. Here, we expose adult female zebrafish to environmentally relevant concentrations of BPS (0, 1, 10, 30 μg/L) and 1 μg/L of 17-β-estradiol (E2) as a positive control for 60 days. Fe...
Article
Supporting deaf and hard-of-hearing researchers requires thought and planning from colleagues, but science benefits greatly, says Denis Meuthen.
Article
Antidepressant (AD) drugs are widely prescribed for the treatment of psychiatric disorders, including depression and anxiety disorders. The continuous use of ADs causes significant quantities of these bioactive chemicals to enter the aquatic ecosystems mainly through wastewater effluent discharge. This may result in many aquatic organisms being ina...
Article
Full-text available
Exposure to predation risk can induce a fearful baseline state, as well as fear reactions toward novel situations (i.e., neophobia). Some research indicates that risk exposure during sensitive periods makes adults more prone to acquiring long-term fearful phenotypes. However, chronic risk can also lead to ignoring threats in order to maintain other...
Article
Bisphenol S (BPS) is increasingly used in a wide range of industrial and consumer products, resulting in its ubiquitous distribution across the environment, including aquatic ecosystems. Although it is commonly known as a weak/moderate estrogenic compound, there has been a growing acknowledgment of the potential of BPS to cause toxicity by inducing...
Article
Bisphenol S (BPS), considered to be a safe alternative to Bisphenol A, is increasingly used in a wide variety of consumer and industrial products. However, mounting evidence suggests that BPS can act as a xenoestrogen targeting a wide range of neuro-endocrine functions in animals. At present, very little is known about the impacts of BPS on social...
Article
Predicting patterns of variation in sexual traits requires understanding how developmental environments influence mate choice. Here, we studied how long-term perceived high predation risk affects mutual mate choice in the cichlid Pelvicachromis taeniatus. From hatching onwards, fish were exposed regularly to either conspecific alarm cues signalling...
Article
Full-text available
Although comprehending the significance of phenotypic plasticity for evolution is of major interest in biology, the pre-requirement for that, the understanding of variance in plasticity, is still in its infancy. Most researchers assess plastic traits at single developmental stages and pool results between sexes. Here, we study variation among sexes...
Article
Full-text available
High predation risk during development induces phenotypic changes in animals. However, little is known about how these plastic responses affect signalling and competitiveness during contests. Herein, we have studied the consequences of anti-predator plasticity during the intra-sexual competition of Pelvicachromis taeniatus, a cichlid fish with mutu...
Article
Full-text available
To cope with the heterogeneous nature of predation and the trade-off between predator avoidance and foraging, prey animals have evolved several cognitive rules. One of these is the risk allocation hypothesis, which predicts that in environments with long periods of sustained high risk, individuals should decrease their antipredator effort to satisf...
Article
In the face of anthropogenic change, we require a better understanding of how adaptive behavioural changes emerge from the interaction between personality and phenotypic plasticity, to be able to predict population persistence. Predation is an important context where this interaction occurs. Sampling wild fish populations revealed that boldness is...
Article
Full-text available
Full-text available at http://evolutionary-ecology.com/abstracts/v19/3105.html Background: Damage-released alarm cues are reliable indicators of predation risk for prey fishes. Based on early observations in the 20th century, alarm cues were for a long time assumed to be produced and located exclusively within skin-based club or sacchiform cells....
Article
Full-text available
Predation is an important but often fluctuating selection factor for prey animals. Accordingly, individuals plastically adopt antipredator strategies in response to current predation risk. Recently, it was proposed that predation risk also plastically induces neophobia (an antipredator response towards novel cues). Previous studies, however, do not...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals have to respond simultaneously to different environmental factors often making trade-offs between conflicting demands necessary. Many freshwater ecosystems are resource-limited and both intra- and interspecific competitiveness is a common requirement to gain and defend resources necessary for reproduction. Although predation risk is an...
Article
Full-text available
A 39-year old patient with gastric adenocarcinoma stage IV failed to respond to preoperative chemotherapies containing 5-FU and cisplatin as well as 5-FU and irinotecan. After third-line chemotherapy with two cycles of docetaxel and cisplatin we confirmed a clinical partial response. A complete histologically confirmed remission was detected after...
Article
A 39-year old patient with gastric adenocarcinoma stage IV failed to respond to preoperative chemotherapies containing 5-FU and cisplatin as well as 5-FU and irinotecan. After third-line chemotherapy with two cycles of docetaxel and cisplatin we confirmed a clinical partial response. A complete histologically confirmed remission was detected after...
Article
Full-text available
The evolution of alarm signals has puzzled evolutionary ecologists for decades. This is particularly true for alarm cues (‘Schreckstoff’) which are present in many fishes. They are passively released through injuries and signal the presence of a predator. Although the benefits for conspecific receivers are obvious (they can adjust their behavior to...
Article
Full-text available
Mating preferences for genetic compatibility strictly depend on the interplay of the genotypes of potential partners and are therein fundamentally different from directional preferences for ornamental secondary sexual traits. Thus, the most compatible partner is on average not the one with most pronounced ornaments and vice versa. Hence, mating pre...
Article
Full-text available
The evolution of alarm signals has puzzled evolutionary ecologists for decades. This is particularly true for alarm cues (‘Schreckstoff’) which are present in many fishes. They are passively released through injuries and signal the presence of a predator. Although the benefits for conspecific receivers are obvious (they can adjust their behavior to...
Article
Ein 76-jähriger Patient wurde mit Hepatosplenomegalie, Anämie, Thrombopenie, Eosinophilie, Erhöhung der Laktatdehydrogenase und erythroleukämischem Blutbild stationär aufgenommen. Die Knochenmarkhistologie, die Immunhistologie und der molekulargenetische Nachweis der c-kit-Mutation D816 V belegten eine systemische Mastozytose. Eine auswärts vermute...
Article
A 76-year old patient was referred to our Oncology Unit due to hepatosplenomegaly, anemia, thrombocytopenia, eosinophilia, elevation of lactat dehydrogenase and leucocytosis with occurrence of myeloid and erythroid precursors in the peripheral blood. Histopathological examination of the bone marrow and molecular genetics showing a c-kit-D816V-mutat...
Article
Full-text available
Fast acclimatisation of experimental animals to laboratory test conditions is crucial for effective research. During highly standardized experiments, confounding parameters must be minimized which might lead to animals behaving unnaturally. The objective of the present study was to develop a simple method to enhance activity of fishes under laborat...
Article
Theory predicts that parents should adjust their parental investment to the reproductive value of the brood. Previous studies have mainly investigated the relationship between brood size, brood age and the intensity of care. However, the impact of brood quality traits such as the offspring’s average body size on parental investment has received rel...

Questions

Question (1)
Question
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
currently I'm struggling with the analysis of several datasets. They have one thing in common - simple nested or crossed random effects do not correctly represent the dependency matrix of my random effects. It was suggested that pdMat dependency structures in nlme may be very suitable to describe the dependency structures of my random effects. However, in most standard statistical literature, this topic is hardly mentioned. Even when it is mentioned somewhere, it covers barely half a page and for the most part only lists what the function is capable of. What I'm looking for is a comprehensive but non-mathematical approach that teaches one to choose the correct dependency structure for several examples. Do you maybe know of a suitable reference or would anyone be willing to teach me how to do that in a personal conversation?
Thank you for your time!
Denis

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
One of the strategies of organisms to cope with environmental change is phenotypic plasticity, the ability of genotypes to produce different phenotypes dependent on the environment. While plasticity within a single generation is well-studied, transgenerational plasticity that allows offspring to adapt to the environmental conditions of previous generations, to which they will most likely be exposed as well, is not yet well understood. The objective of this project is to study antipredator phenotypic plasticity, a particularly well-studied case of phenotypic plasticity, in a sexually reproducing fish so as to reveal the mechanisms and consequences of transgenerational plasticity.
Archived project
Currently, I am studying the evolutionary consequences of chemical cues which represent predation risk in the phenotype of Pelvicachromis taeniatus. Such chemical cues can be quite diverse and are not yet fully understood. Since predation risk is a highly fluctuating biotic factor, individual animals are able to flexibly respond to the level of predation risk via phenotypic plasticity and thus, show a wide array of morphological, physiological and behavioral modifications accordingly. To elucidate the origin of relevant chemical cues, I will perform behavioral experiments. Moreover, the effect of such cues on fish phenotypes and their consequences in natural as well as sexual selection processes will be studied.