Ralph Simon

Ralph Simon


What we think we see depends just as much on our biology and mind as it does on the external world. I’m interested in the evolutionary, physiological and physical constraints that shape animal orientation, communication and sensory experience. Thereby, it is paramount to work not only on a single stimuli level but to consider the full range of sensory channels and their interactions. Only in this way is it possible to fully understand an animal’s sensory world. For my studies I follow mainly a three-step approach: First, I aim to understand which modalities are involved in a study system, the next step is to reproduce the sensory information available to animals in biomimetic setups, and then it is important to experimentally test predictions in behavioural studies. With this approach I study echolocation behaviour of different bat species with a focus on nectar feeding bats and the acoustic adaptations of the plants they are pollinating. Apart from my fundamental research on sensory ecology, I also carry out applied science research in the area of bionics and bioinspired sonar sensing. Given my strong interest in the (sensory) ecology of bats, I have also dedicated several years to nature conservation research projects. At the moment, I’m involved in the ‘Seeing Voices Project’, where we try to disentangle the role of multimodal cues in vocal learning in birds.

Selected Publications

Behr O, Brinkmann R, Hochradel K, Mages J, Korner-Nievergelt F, Niermann I, Reich M, Simon R, Weber N, Nagy M (2017) Mitigating Bat Mortality with Turbine-Specific Curtailment Algorithms: A Model Based Approach. In Wind Energy and Wildlife Interactions (pp. 135-160). Springer International Publishing.

Schöner MG, Schöner CR, Simon R, Grafe TU, Puechmaille SJ, Ji LL, Kerth G. Bats are acoustically attracted to mutualistic carnivorous plants. Current Biology. 2015 Jul 20;25(14):1911-6.

Simon R, Knörnschild M, Tschapka M, Schneider A, Passauer N, Kalko EK, von Helversen O (2014) Biosonar resolving power: echo-acoustic perception of surface structures in the submillimeter range. Frontiers in Physiology 5.

Simon R, Holderied MW, Koch CU, von Helversen O (2011) Floral acoustics: conspicuous echoes of a dish-shaped leaf attract bat pollinators. Science. Jul 29;333(6042):631-3.

Simon R, Holderied MW, von Helversen O (2006) Size discrimination of hollow hemispheres by echolocation in a nectar feeding bat. Journal of Experimental Biology. 209(18):3599-609.

Link to full publication list in PURE