Name: Riccarda Wolter
City of birth: Hanau
|Since September 2012||Dissertation in Biology at the University of Regensburg, Department of Biology|
|Topic: Individual influences on habitat use of Przewalski’s horses (Equus ferus przewalskii) living under natural conditions|
|Topic: Activity patterns, social behaviour und reproductional behaviour of aye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis) at Frankfurt Zoo|
|January 2010 – October 2010||Diploma thesis at Frankfurt Zoo (grade: excellent)|
|April 2008 – November 2009||Advanced studies of Biology at the University of Würzburg|
|Main subject: Behavioral physiology & Sociobiology|
|First minor subject: Animal ecology|
|Second minor subject: Human genetics|
|University degree: Certified biologist (final grade: excellent)|
|April 2006 - March 2008||Basic studies of Biology at the University of Mainz|
|1996 – 2005||Abitur at the Franziskaner-Gymnasium Kreuzburg, Großkrotzenburg Abitur at the Franziskaner-Gymnasium Kreuzburg, Großkrotzenburg|
|1992 – 1996||Elementary school Limesschule, Hanau Elementary school Limesschule, Hanau|
Sensory laterality, Stress Hormons and Immunoglobuline A in horses (Equus caballus):
Stress does not only have impact on welfare of human and animal, but also influences their psychical and physical health. This occurs due to changes of physiological and immunological parameters, which can be determined non-invasively only partly. Blood samples are necessary especially for the evaluation of impact of stress on immune system and thus the blood collection is another stress factor for animals. Therefore the aim of this study is to establish non-invasive parameters to evaluate the individual stress level.
Already well established stress parameters should help to evaluate the practical use of sensory and motor laterality as well as fecal immunoglobulin A (IgA) as non-invasive stress parameters. This will be accomplished with a practical orientation by creating typical potential stressful situations for horses. This includes stress due to housing conditions, social stress in group housing, stress due to transportation and training. On two consecutive years 16 (plus 3 control horses) horses of the State Stud Farm Marbach will be included for each year (total 32 plus 6 horses).
The PhD thesis aims to establish non-invasive parameters that can be used to evaluate the stress level resulting from inappropriate housing and/or training conditions as well as a possible genetically determined stress sensitivity. This includes not only motor laterality but also sensory laterality, which changes in a shorter time period and more situation-related, and the fecal IgA-concentration, that promise to provide information on the local immune defense. Especially chronical stress affects the immune defense of the intestine and predisposes the individual for intestinal diseases.
Interieur und Stressbelastbarkeit von Jungpferden:
The study aims to establish an objective personality test and to evaluate the stress sensitivity of young horses under normal housing conditions as well as before and after initial training. Selective breeding of less stress sensitive horses would contribute to an enhanced well-being of horses. It would improve their performance, ensure safer handling and facilitate daily handling. For this purpose an objective evaluation of the personality is needed. Knowledge about the personality and individual character of a horse allows horse keepers/equestrians to find standards for keeping and training, which do not restrict the nature and individuality of the horse. On this basis the horses could be supported to find inner serenity, self-awareness and confidence, which are presuppositions for suppleness and sustained willingness to perform (FN 2005, FN2014). The classical “training scale” for horses is based on rhythm and suppleness, which are mutually dependent like all the other steps from the “training scale”. To find the rhythm and to move in balance under the rider the physical suppleness is needed. But it will not work without the psychical suppleness, because only a mentally relaxed horse is able to move supple in rhythm and balance, that is the basis of the classical “training scale” (FN2014). Therefore not only a correct anatomy, but also an appropriate character of the horse facilitates the rider and horse to reach this basis, which shows that an objective evaluation of the personality matters. By means of a personality-test different personality traits of a horse can be evaluated.
According to current researches the measurement of sensory laterality can provide more insight into the personality, like e.g. stress sensitivity (Rogers 2010, Deesing and Grandin 2014). Thus this study aims to establish a personality-test for horses with integration of the evaluation of sensory laterality, which is easy to implement for professional breeders and trainers as well as for leisure riders by using simple tools. Furthermore it could facilitate the horse marketing for different disciplines/divisions, the individual choice of a suitable training method and it would improve the breeding selection in terms of breeding less stress sensitive horses.