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Peter Moller

Department :
Membership :
Associate Member
Core Research :
Office :
Room 620 North
Email :
Office Phone :
(212) 769-5841
Office Fax :
(212) 772-5620
Lab Room:
(212) 772-5197
Education :
  • Ph.D., Free University Berlin, Zoology, Chemistry, Physics
Research Interest :

Effects of gonadal steroids on the expression of courtship display structures and behavior in African mormyrid fish.
One can mimic natural processes of maturation in these fish through sex steroid manipulation, and study the mechanisms that direct structural and behavioral transformations. We are interested in the plasticity of sexual differentiation (sexual dimorphisms) of primary and secondary sexual characters. To this end we expose newly hatched larvae, later juvenile and adult stages to androgen, and also to endocrine disrupting agents. We investigate the expression of gonads, electric organ, electric organ discharge, the anal fin and its support structures, as well as a male-specific fin reflex involved in courtship behavior.

Role of electric organ discharges and their integration with sight and lateral line in African mormyrid fish.
Specific topics: a) maze learning and spatial memory in Gnathonemus petersii and Mormyrus rume; b) impact of stress on memory; c) relationship between memory and the ‘memory molecule’, PKMzeta (with Dr. P. Serrano, Hunter College).

Books (written and edited) :

  • Moller, P. (1995) Electric Fishes: History and behavior. Chapman and Hall, London, 608 pp.
  • LeCroy, D. and Moller, P. (eds.) (2000). Evolutionary perspectives on human reproductive behavior. Anls. NY Acad. Sci. 907, 1-233.
  • Ladich, F., Collin, S.P., Moller, P. and Kapoor, B.G. (eds.) (2006). Communication in Fishes. Science Publishers Inc., Enfield, NH, USA

Selected Publications :
  • Brown, B., Benveniste, L.M.,& Moller, P. (1996). Basal expansion of anal-fin rays: a new osteological character in weakly discharging electric fish (Mormyridae). J. Fish Biol., 49, 1216-1225.
  • Ciali, S., Gordon, J., & Moller, P. (1997). Spectral sensitivity of the weakly discharging electric fish Gnathonemus petersii using its electric organ discharges as the response measure. J. Fish Biol. 50, 1074-1087.
  • Herfeld, S. & Moller. P. (1998). Effects of 17?-methyltestosterone on sexually dimorphic characters in the weakly discharging electric fish, Brienomyrus niger (Günther, 1866) (Mormyridae): electric organ discharge, ventral body wall indentation, and anal--fin ray bone expansion. Horm. Behav., 34, 303-319. PMID 9878279
  • Rojas, R. & Moller, P. (2002). Multisensory contributions to the shelter-seeking behavior of a mormyrid fish, Gnathonemus petersii Günther (Mormyridae, Teleostei): the role of vision, and the passive and active electrosenses. Brain Behav. Evol., 59:211-221. PMID 12138341
  • Moller, P. (2002). Multimodal sensory integration in weakly electric fish: a behavioral account. J. Physiol. (Paris). 96/5-6: 547-556. PMID 14692502
  • Moller, P., Schugardt, C. & Kirschbaum, F. (2004). Permanent and seasonal expression of sexual dimorphisms in a weakly electric fish, Mormyrus rume proboscirostris Boulenger 1898 (Mormyridae, Teleostei). Environ. Biol. Fishes 70, 175-184.
  • Greisman, L. & Moller, P. (2005). The anal-fin complex in a weakly discharging electric fish, Gnathonemus petersii Günther 1862 (Teleostei: Mormyridae). J. Biol. Fish. 66, 266-275.
  • Khait, V., Tahiraj, E., Seemungal, N., Breakstone, S. & Moller, P. (2009). Group cohesion in juvenile weakly electric fish (Mormyridae). J. Fish Biol. 75, 490-502.
  • Moller, P., Schugardt, C., Dowling, B. & Kirschbaum, F. (2009). The expression of sexual dimorphisms in the weakly electric fish Mormyrus rume proboscirostris (Teleostei, Mormyridae) following exposure of larvae to 17?-methyldihydro testosterone.Bull. Fish Biol. 11, 15-20.
  • Walton, A. & Moller, P. (2010). Maze learning and recall in a weakly electric fish, Mormyrus rume proboscirostris, Boulenger 1898 (Mormyridae, Teleostei). Ethology 116, 904-919.
  • Moller, P., Chowdhury, A., Fatova, K., Nuruzzaman, F. & Serrano, P. A. (2010). Spatial learning and PKM? expression in weakly electric fish, Gnathonemus petersii Günther and Mormyrus rume proboscirostris Boulenger (Mormyridae, Teleostei). Soc. Neurosci. (abstract 390.3)
  • Alliger, A. A. & Moller, P. (2011). The effects of environmental control on cognition in rats (Rattus norvegicus). JAAWS,14(4):271-85.
  • Curtin, P.C.P., Hauber, M. E., & Moller, P. (2011). Factors influencing mutual gaze in captive female Japanese monkeys (Macaca fuscata). J. Ethology 29 (3), 487 - 491