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Christian Harding

Postgraduate Student

I am a DPhil student on the Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) programme. I am interested in using non-standard laboratory species and conditions to reveal unexplored sources of diversity in sleep expression.

Most of what we know about sleep has been learnt through the study of a small number of mammals. Furthermore, sleep experiments are often conducted in simple, homogenous environments that do not recapitulate the complex, heterogenous environments in which sleep evolved. Recent studies have shown that sleep varies in response to a range of ecological demands associated with wild environments. In the absence of a complete explanation of the function of sleep, it is important to question whether our current lab-based methods of study are sufficient, or whether we are missing an important piece of the puzzle.

My project aims to use electrophysiological techniques to characterise the sleep behaviour of the Egyptian Fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) under naturalistic social conditions. By conducting similar studies in laboratory mice, I aim to assess the generality of any social effects identified.