Institute of Medical Psychology

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stefanie monecke

Dr. rer. nat. Stefanie Monecke

Project Leader e-Learning


Development of an electronic revision course in medical psychology
Mentoring and administration of the Coursera course “Circadian clocks: how rhythms structure life”.
Research: Circannual rhythms from the neuroendocrinological level to the ecological relevance


Goethestr. 31
D-80336 Munich

Phone: +4989218075647


My research focuses on the endogenous circannual rhythms of the European hamster (Cricetus cricetus). This species lives predominantly on farmland and has a huge distribution area covering most parts of the temperate zones of the Eurasian continent. The European hamster has not only a circadian clock, which is known to drive, for example, the daily sleep-wake cycle, but also an endogenous circa-annual clock, which ticks in the pace of approximately 365 days. It times for example the end of hibernation and the start of the reproductive period.
With my work, I have contributed to understanding how the circannual clock of seasonal animals stays in synchrony with the 365 days cycle of the year. In my current project, I want to investigate why such a formerly superabundant widespread pest-species as the European hamster is now worldwide at the brink of extinction. The population has declined since the 60’s by at least 70% all over its huge distribution area. In Germany, this decline has been even more pronounced (by about 99%).
Such a global decline in the hamster’s population can only partially be explained by a worsening of the biotopes (the spatial structure of the environment), i.e. the farmlands, since this would only have regional effects. My hypothesis is that the decline is due to a change in the chronotope (the temporal structure of the environment), for example by light pollution or climate change. Such disturbances act on the global scale. Indeed, in recent years, we have observed a marked delay in the onset of the reproductive phase in hamsters. As a consequence, the yearly offspring of a female has reduced by 77% all over Europe, and this negative trend is still progressing. In this project the reasons for this decline in the reproductive rate will be elucidated.


Sáenz de Miera C, Sage-Ciocca D, Simonneaux V, Pévet P, and Monecke S (2018) Melatonin-independent Photoperiodic Entrainment of the Circannual TSH Rhythm in the Pars Tuberalis of the European Hamster. Journal of Biological Rhythms 33:302-317, doi 10.1177/0748730418766601.

Pévet P, Bouaouda H, Monecke S, Mendoza J, El Allali K, Challet E (2016) Control of seasonality by photoperiodic changes: Are the Arcuate nuclei involved? In: Haldar, C (ed) Updates on Integrative Physiology and Comparative Endocrinology. Banaras Hindu University Press, Vârânasî (India)

Feature article: Surov A, Banaszek A, Bogomolov PL, Feoktistova N, Monecke S (2016) Dramatic global decrease in the range and reproduction rate of the European hamster Cricetus cricetus. Endanger Species Research 31:119-145

Könnicke S, Faber M, Monecke S, Stefen C (2016) Methods of postmortal age-determination in Cricetus cricetus. Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 81, Supplement:11

Invited review: Monecke S, Wollnik F and Pévet P (2014) The circannual clock in the European hamster – how is it synchronized by photoperiodic changes? In: Annual, Lunar and Tidal Clocks: Patterns and Mechanisms of Nature’s Enigmatic Rhythms. Numata H, Helm B (eds) Springer

Sáenz de Miera C, Monecke S, Laran-Chich MP, Bartzen-Sprauer J, Hazlerigg D, Pévet P, Simonneaux V (2014) The circannual clock drives expression of genes central for seasonal reproduction. Curr Biol 24:1500-1506.

Monecke S, Amann B, Lemuth K, and Wollnik F (2014) Dual control of seasonal time keeping in male and female juvenile European hamsters. PhysiolBehav 130:66-74