Daniela Rößler. Copyright: Ines Janas

Cozzarelli Prize finalist 2022

Biologist Daniela Rößler from the University of Konstanz's Zukunftskolleg honoured for her publication on a state of jumping spiders that is similar to REM sleep.

The article "Regularly occurring bouts of retinal movements suggest a REM sleep-like state in jumping spiders" by biologist Daniela C. Rößler was one of the finalists for the 2022 Cozzarelli Prize. With this award, the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) intends to highlight the exceptional quality and importance of the research work. When published in PNAS in the summer of 2022, it generated a great deal of media coverage in national and international media. National Geographic, for example, recognized Rößler’s research as one of the “22 most amazing discoveries of 2022”.

Better understanding animal sleep
The research results of Daniela Rößler and her team suggest that jumping spiders (Evarcha arcuata) experience a state similar to active REM sleep in humans. They recorded and analyzed nocturnal infrared footage of 34 young jumping spiders. The spiders exhibited phases of clear retinal movements that took place at very regular intervals. These phases increased in length over the course of the night. The retinal movements were always accompanied by uncontrolled movements of the body, like curling of the legs or twitching of single limbs or the spinnerets. These are surprising similarities to REM sleep seen in other animals.

About the prize
The PNAS Cozzarelli Prize is an award that recognizes outstanding contributions to the scientific disciplines represented by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The annual prize acknowledges papers that reflect scientific excellence and originality. The prize was established in 2005 as the Paper of the Year Prize and was renamed in 2007 to honor late PNAS Editor-in-Chief Nicholas R. Cozzarelli.

For the 2022 Cozzarelli Prize, papers were chosen from more than 3,200 research articles that appeared in the journal last year and represent the six broadly defined classes under which the NAS is organized. Additionally, the Editorial Board has recognized six papers – one in each class – as finalists for the 2022 Cozzarelli Prize.

About Daniela Rößler
Daniela Rößler is a behavioural and evolutionary ecologist. Since May of 2021, she has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Zukunftskolleg and the Department of Biology at the University of Konstanz as well as at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior. Her research interests include animal colouration, sensory ecology and animal behaviour with a focus on anti-predator adaptations.

Natural history observations from the field form the basis for most of her research questions. She uses integrative and interdisciplinary approaches in both the field and the lab to experimentally test the function of signals and/or behaviour. Daniela Rößler focuses on visual signals, cognition and anti-predator adaptations in jumping spiders. She is currently studying the ecology of fear and sleep in jumping spiders.

The Zukunftskolleg
The Zukunftskolleg is an Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Konstanz dedicated to the promotion of early career researchers who have completed their doctorate but have not yet been appointed to a professorship. It provides an interdisciplinary working environment with excellent research conditions and the greatest possible freedom. The Zukunftskolleg is funded in the context of the German Excellence Strategy and by the Hector-Stiftung II.

Key facts:

  • Dr Daniela Rößler from the Zukunftskolleg/Department of Biology at the University of Konstanz and the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior recognized as Cozzarelli Prize 2022 finalist.
  • The publication of her article "Regularly occurring bouts of retinal movements suggest a REM sleep-like state in jumping spiders" in PNAS generated a lot of media coverage in the summer of 2022. The article can be found here: PNAS Vol. 119, Nr. 33. DOI: doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2204754119
  • The research results point to an REM sleep-like state in jumping spiders.