Max Planck Institute for Ornithology
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 four 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 and Iain Couzin are directors in Radolfzell and Konstanz (at Lake Constance), both also hold 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 Collective Behaviour
The research focuses on revealing the principles that underlie collective animal behavior. Understanding how social influence shapes biological processes is a central challenge, essential for achieving progress in a variety of fields ranging from the organization and evolution of coordinated collective action among cells, or animals, to the dynamics of information exchange in human societies. By developing an integrated experimental and theoretical research program, it aims to explore functional properties of groups in a context that can reveal how, and why, social behavior has evolved. The director of this department is Prof. Dr. Iain Couzin.
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. The director of this department is Prof. Dr. Manfred Gahr.
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. The director of this department is Prof. Dr. Bart Kempenaers.
Department of Migration and Immuno-Ecology
The Department of Migration and Immuno-ecology at the 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, it equips 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. The director of this department is Prof. Dr. Martin Wikelski.