Logo der Universität Wien



Cupiennius getazi
lyriform organ
trichobothria on tarsus
spider eyes
Rhodnius prolixus

Our goal is to understand SENSORY SYSTEMS in a wide perspective. Our interests include the workings of the bio-sensors per se as well as the behavioral relevance of the sensory systems they are part of. Our view is organismic but at the same time our analyses concern several levels of organization, ranging from cellular physiology to sensory ecology, and the relationships between them.

According to the questions asked we apply a rich blend of approaches and techniques in our research, with important branches into engineering but also emphasizing the importance of field work. We have been following this broad path for many years, large hunting spiders of the genus Cupiennius being our main experimental animals. Thus we have been striving to uncover the functional principles and biological relevance of a number of different senses such as cuticular strain detectionthe vibration sense and vibratory communicationmedium flow detectionthe visual sensechemoreception, and  thermo- and hygroreception. Cockroaches and a number of other insects are mainly used to study questions in chemo- and thermoreception.

In recent years  recruitment and communication behavior of tropical stingless bees have received increasing attention, the main interest being the sensory mechanisms underlying these fascinating behaviors.

An issue given increasing attention as well is the  quantitative modelling of bio-sensors in collaboration with engineers, both in order to better understand functional principles and to pave the way to new bio-inspired synthetic sensors for technical applications.

Our current research projects cluster around three working groups specializing in different sensory modalities.

Friedrich G. BARTH

Mechanoreceptive systems and mechanically guided behavior, biomechanics, modelling of sensors in collaboration with engineering, communication and recruitment in stingless bees. (Hunting spiders, orb weaving spiders, stingless bees)


Visual systems and visually guided behavior (Hunting spiders, mammals)

Harald TICHY

Food odor coding by parallel ON and OFF pathways in the cockroach
Infrared and temperature perception in bloodsucking bugs
Mechanisms of humidity transduction

ON and OFF olfactory sensillum on the cockroach antenna

Figs. 1-4: from "A Spider´s World - Senses and Bahavior", Springer (Barth 2002)

Department für Neurobiologie
Universität Wien

Althanstrasse 14
A-1090 Wien
T: +43 1 4277 56501
Universität Wien | Universitätsring 1 | 1010 Wien | T +43-1-4277-0