The Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (MPIO) was founded in 2004. The headquarter is located in Seewiesen in Upper Bavaria. The other part of the institute is located in Radolfzell at Lake Constance. The institute has three departments and several independent research groups that investigate different ornithological topics by using an interdisciplinary approach. Manfred Gahr and Bart Kempenaers conduct their research in Seewiesen. Martin Wikelski is director of the third department in Radolfzell (at Lake Constance) and also holds a professorship at the University of Konstanz. The MPIO has over 200 employees and maintains close cooperation with a number of international institutions with shared research interests.
Department of Behavioural Neurobiology
The research of the department of Behavioural Neurobiology focuses on the sexual differentiation of the brain, seeking to understand the mechanisms responsible for the development of sex-specific behaviours and sensory processing. In this context, we study the endocrine, molecular, and neurobiological mechanisms of innate and learned vocalizations of various bird species in a natural setting. Songbirds display a large variety of gender-specific singing behaviour, making them ideal models for studies investigating sex differences in behaviour.
Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics
Who is the perfect partner and how do individuals find him or her? This question becomes relevant to every individual at some point in their lives, and is also the key to understanding many aspects of animal behaviour. The research of the department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics focuses on the evolution of mate choice, parental care, and promiscuity in birds. We study why individuals differ in their mating behaviour and how this affects their reproductive success and survival.
Department of Migration and Immuno-ecology
The Department of Migration and Immuno-ecology at Radolfzell Ornithological Station aims to understand why animals migrate, how they move from one place to another, and how they survive. To analyse global animal migrations, we equip individuals with state-of-the-art radio transmitters. Data from these transmitters are collected and stored in an online database accessible to researchers and the public across the globe. This research will provide new insights into how organisms cope with the effects of climate change, disease, and human alterations of their natural environment.