Events in Seewiesen and Radolfzell

September 25-29, 2017Lake Constance, Germany

The 6th International Bio-Logging Science Symposium

September 25-29, 2017
Lake Constance, Germany [more]

International projects

Clustered knowledge

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Method comparison: reliably quantify dominance hierarchy

The unintended information transfer between foraging bats of the same and other species is still poorly understood. Scientists around Theresa Hügel from the Acoustic and Functional Ecology Group ask how call structure and foraging ecology influence communication between different bat species.

How does interspecific communication influence behaviour in bats?

The unintended information transfer between foraging bats of the same and other species is still poorly understood. Scientists around Theresa Hügel from the Acoustic and Functional Ecology Group ask how call structure and foraging ecology influence communication between different bat species. [more]
Shrews lose almost a fifth of their body weight during the winter month by depleting bones, organs and even the brain itself. During spring, the nearly double their body mass again, according to scientists from Radolfzell and Seewiesen.

Shrews shrink in winter and regrow in spring

Shrews lose almost a fifth of their body weight during the winter month by depleting bones, organs and even the brain itself. During spring, the nearly double their body mass again, according to scientists from Radolfzell and Seewiesen. [more]
Light pollution affects the onset of dawn song in great tits, blue tits and chaffinches along different latitudes across Europe. Even in northern Finland, where nights become very bright during late spring, Arnaud Da Silva and Bart Kempenaers found that with artificial night lighting, these bird species start to sing earlier at dawn.

Light pollution affects songbirds even at high latitudes

Light pollution affects the onset of dawn song in great tits, blue tits and chaffinches along different latitudes across Europe. Even in northern Finland, where nights become very bright during late spring, Arnaud Da Silva and Bart Kempenaers found that with artificial night lighting, these bird species start to sing earlier at dawn. [more]
The ICARUS-computer, the future brain of the global system for observing animal movements from space arrived on the ISS. With the installation next year, a new era for behavioural research will begin: the study of migratory routes of small animals will show path taken in the spread of infectious diseases and probably even help for the prediction of natural disasters.

ICARUS lifts off

The ICARUS-computer, the future brain of the global system for observing animal movements from space arrived on the ISS. With the installation next year, a new era for behavioural research will begin: the study of migratory routes of small animals will show path taken in the spread of infectious diseases and probably even help for the prediction of natural disasters. [more]
After the disappearance of one parent (mostly the female) in 8 out of 15 studied shorebird species a single parent (mostly the male) was able to incubate the eggs alone. One third of such uniparentally incubated clutches (from 5 species) successfully hatched, found researchers around Bulla and Bart Kempenaers in their study in Scientific Reports.

Sudden single-parenting: One third of shorebird clutches still successful

After the disappearance of one parent (mostly the female) in 8 out of 15 studied shorebird species a single parent (mostly the male) was able to incubate the eggs alone. One third of such uniparentally incubated clutches (from 5 species) successfully hatched, found researchers around Bulla and Bart Kempenaers in their study in Scientific Reports.
Bart Kempenaers, Martin Bulla, Michaela Hau, Stefania Casagrande und Niels Rattenborg contributed with articles to the new Philosophical Transactions B theme issue about ‘Wild clocks: integrating chronobiology and ecology to understand timekeeping in free-living animals’. Topics range from field and lab studies on the molecular bases of marine biological rhythms, methods for tracking biological rhythms of free-ranging animals in their natural environments, a summary on the evidence for sexual selection on seasonal and daily timing, as well as methods that enable sleep researchers to go wild.

Several researchers publish in a new theme issue about chronobiology and ecology

Bart Kempenaers, Martin Bulla, Michaela Hau, Stefania Casagrande und Niels Rattenborg contributed with articles to the new Philosophical Transactions B theme issue about ‘Wild clocks: integrating chronobiology and ecology to understand timekeeping in free-living animals’. Topics range from field and lab studies on the molecular bases of marine biological rhythms, methods for tracking biological rhythms of free-ranging animals in their natural environments, a summary on the evidence for sexual selection on seasonal and daily timing, as well as methods that enable sleep researchers to go wild. [more]
Bats perceive a smooth, vertical surface as an open pathway. The surface acts like an acoustic mirror and reflects the echolocation calls away from the bat until shorty before collision. In the Journal SCIENCE, Stefan Greif and other colleagues from Seewiesen speculate that this might be fatal for many bats in times of buildings with large glass facades.

Glas front can be acoustic illusions for bats

Bats perceive a smooth, vertical surface as an open pathway. The surface acts like an acoustic mirror and reflects the echolocation calls away from the bat until shorty before collision. In the Journal SCIENCE, Stefan Greif and other colleagues from Seewiesen speculate that this might be fatal for many bats in times of buildings with large glass facades. [more]
The "FlyMiBird" project is developing a small, autonomously operating analytical system for testing various hormones in birds in their natural habitat. Partners in the project are the Department of Behavioural Neurobiology in Seewiesen, the Laboratory for Sensors of the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of the University of Freiburg, and the company Jobst Technologies GmbH. The system will enable researchers to conduct many autonomous physiological tests without affecting the natural behaviour of the animals.

The Max Planck Society has granted €1.52 million in funding to a project for studying hormones in birds

The "FlyMiBird" project is developing a small, autonomously operating analytical system for testing various hormones in birds in their natural habitat. Partners in the project are the Department of Behavioural Neurobiology in Seewiesen, the Laboratory for Sensors of the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of the University of Freiburg, and the company Jobst Technologies GmbH. The system will enable researchers to conduct many autonomous physiological tests without affecting the natural behaviour of the animals. [more]
IMPRS students Antje Girndt and Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar from the Research Group Schroeder and IMPRS student Glenn Cockburn from the Research Group Baldwin tested different sperm collection methods and found a divergence in sperm size in the samples. Importantly, collection method thus affects the results of a study.

Method matters: Sperm length changes with collection technique

IMPRS students Antje Girndt and Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar from the Research Group Schroeder and IMPRS student Glenn Cockburn from the Research Group Baldwin tested different sperm collection methods and found a divergence in sperm size in the samples. Importantly, collection method thus affects the results of a study. [more]
A new study from the Communication and Social Behaviour Group challenges the idea that urban noise causes birds to sing higher frequencies. They show that great tits in noise stay on pitch, regardless of whether noise exposure happens during the juvenile or adult stage.

Urban noise does not cause higher frequencies in individual birds

A new study from the Communication and Social Behaviour Group challenges the idea that urban noise causes birds to sing higher frequencies. They show that great tits in noise stay on pitch, regardless of whether noise exposure happens during the juvenile or adult stage. [more]
In zebra finches, sperm velocity and morphology and hence reproductive success strongly depend on a specific mutation on one of the sex chromosomes, according to a new study from Seewiesen.

Mutation speeds up sperm of zebra finches

In zebra finches, sperm velocity and morphology and hence reproductive success strongly depend on a specific mutation on one of the sex chromosomes, according to a new study from Seewiesen. [more]
Although a similar number of males and females hatch, populations of snowy Plovers are male-biased. Scientists of the research group Küpper are suggesting that this is due to lower survival rates of juvenile females because of higher energy demands during development in the early stages of life.

Males of snowy plovers have higher survival rates at all stages of life

Although a similar number of males and females hatch, populations of snowy Plovers are male-biased. Scientists of the research group Küpper are suggesting that this is due to lower survival rates of juvenile females because of higher energy demands during development in the early stages of life. [more]
Vampire bats live on the edge. If they do not get enough to eat, it does not take long before they die of starvation. Other animals often step in, sharing blood meals. Damien Farine and colleagues now discovered that unrelated friends are an important backup support when family members go missing. Bats that previously built up a social network with non-relatives got fed more often after the loss of a closed relative.

Vampire bats rely on their social network

Vampire bats live on the edge. If they do not get enough to eat, it does not take long before they die of starvation. Other animals often step in, sharing blood meals. Damien Farine and colleagues now discovered that unrelated friends are an important backup support when family members go missing. Bats that previously built up a social network with non-relatives got fed more often after the loss of a closed relative. [more]
On April 27th, Prof. Dr. Franz Huber passed away at the age of 91. He was director of the department „Neuroethology“ at the former Max Planck Institute of Behavioural Physiology in Seewiesen from 1973 to 1993. Franz Huber was interested in the neural basis of behaviour, mainly the acoustic communication of crickets, katydids and cicada. His research was important to establish the research field of behavioural neurobiology and with his work Franz Huber gained the recognition of the national and international scientific community.

We bid farewell to Prof. Dr. Franz Huber

On April 27th, Prof. Dr. Franz Huber passed away at the age of 91. He was director of the department „Neuroethology“ at the former Max Planck Institute of Behavioural Physiology in Seewiesen from 1973 to 1993. Franz Huber was interested in the neural basis of behaviour, mainly the acoustic communication of crickets, katydids and cicada. His research was important to establish the research field of behavioural neurobiology and with his work Franz Huber gained the recognition of the national and international scientific community. [more]
Niels Rattenborg was the first to demonstrate sleep in flying birds (Published 2016 in the journal Nature Communications) and therefore won this years outstanding scientific achievment award of the Sleep Reseach Society. Using electroencephalogram recordings of great frigatebirds flying over the ocean for up to 10 days, his team found that the birds can sleep with either one hemisphere at a time or both hemispheres simultaneously. However, while in flight they sleep for a much smaller percentage of time than they do while on land.

Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award for Niels Rattenborg

Niels Rattenborg was the first to demonstrate sleep in flying birds (Published 2016 in the journal Nature Communications) and therefore won this years outstanding scientific achievment award of the Sleep Reseach Society. Using electroencephalogram recordings of great frigatebirds flying over the ocean for up to 10 days, his team found that the birds can sleep with either one hemisphere at a time or both hemispheres simultaneously. However, while in flight they sleep for a much smaller percentage of time than they do while on land. [more]
Lisa Gill, Nico Adreani and Pietro d’Amelio present microphone backpacks designed in Seewiesen. These lightweight wireless microphone backpacks facilitate undisturbed, individual vocal recordings within a group setting for about 2 weeks. This will open up many new opportunities for novel research questions.

Microphone backpacks 2.0

Lisa Gill, Nico Adreani and Pietro d’Amelio present microphone backpacks designed in Seewiesen. These lightweight wireless microphone backpacks facilitate undisturbed, individual vocal recordings within a group setting for about 2 weeks. This will open up many new opportunities for novel research questions.

[more]
After having journeyed half way across the globe, male pectoral sandpipers visit up to 24 potential breeding sites within their breeding range in the Arctic to increase their reproductive success, shows a study in the journal NATURE from Mihai Valcu and Bart Kempenaers.

Speed dating: Male pectoral sandpipers visit up to 24 breeding sites in four weeks

After having journeyed half way across the globe, male pectoral sandpipers visit up to 24 potential breeding sites within their breeding range in the Arctic to increase their reproductive success, shows a study in the journal NATURE from Mihai Valcu and Bart Kempenaers.
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Researchers from Seewiesen investigated whether the timing of dawn singing in wild songbirds is influenced by artificial light. They illuminated eight previously dark forest edges with white, green, red or no light, and recorded daily onset of dawn singing during the breeding season. They predicted that onset of singing would be earlier in the lighted treatments but found no significant effect of the experimental night lighting (of any colour) in 14 species.

No effects of lights of different colours on the onset of the dawn chorus in songbirds

Researchers from Seewiesen investigated whether the timing of dawn singing in wild songbirds is influenced by artificial light. They illuminated eight previously dark forest edges with white, green, red or no light, and recorded daily onset of dawn singing during the breeding season. They predicted that onset of singing would be earlier in the lighted treatments but found no significant effect of the experimental night lighting (of any colour) in 14 species. [more]
Niels Rattenborg and colleagues have discovered that birds can sleep in flight, which has received large national and international attention. Now the study got awarded from the magazin discover as one of the Top 100 stories of 2016 - congratulation!

Study about birds sleeping in mid-flight under Top 100 Stories of 2016

Niels Rattenborg and colleagues have discovered that birds can sleep in flight, which has received large national and international attention. Now the study got awarded from the magazin discover as one of the Top 100 stories of 2016 - congratulation! [more]
In barred buttonquails (Turnix suscitator), females show male typical behaviours like courtship or territoral defense. A study from Cornelia Voigt of the Department of Neurobiology in Seewiesen now showed that hormone profiles were not sexually reversed. However, female-biased sex differences in androgen receptor gene expression in hypothalamic and limbic brain regions were found that were already in place at hatching. Such sex differences are unknown from non-sex-role reversed species and suggest that increased neural androgen sensitivity could be involved in the mechanisms mediating sex-role reversed behaviours.

Reversed sex roles in barred buttonquails

In barred buttonquails (Turnix suscitator), females show male typical behaviours like courtship or territoral defense. A study from Cornelia Voigt of the Department of Neurobiology in Seewiesen now showed that hormone profiles were not sexually reversed. However, female-biased sex differences in androgen receptor gene expression in hypothalamic and limbic brain regions were found that were already in place at hatching. Such sex differences are unknown from non-sex-role reversed species and suggest that increased neural androgen sensitivity could be involved in the mechanisms mediating sex-role reversed behaviours.

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Current levels of road traffic noise mask alarm calls, impeding the ability of great tits to perceive these critical signals. This is shown by a new study in Current Biology led by Henrik Brumm from Seewiesen. Only at a distance of 40 m, the researchers observed some relief from masking with their playback experiments and therefore urgently suggest measures to minimize anthropogenic noise to avoid negative fitness consequences for animals living close to roads.

Traffic noise drowns out great tit alarm calls

Current levels of road traffic noise mask alarm calls, impeding the ability of great tits to perceive these critical signals. This is shown by a new study in Current Biology led by Henrik Brumm from Seewiesen. Only at a distance of 40 m, the researchers observed some relief from masking with their playback experiments and therefore urgently suggest measures to minimize anthropogenic noise to avoid negative fitness consequences for animals living close to roads. [more]
Social play is a frequent behaviour in great apes, which involves sophisticated forms of gestural exchanges. However, relatively little is known about whether signals are adjusted to specific attributes of conspecifics. Marlen Fröhlich and Simone Pika of the Humboldt Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, in collaboration with Roman Wittig from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, carried out the first study on the exchange of play-soliciting gestures in two chimpanzee communities in their natural environments. The results of this study strengthen the view that our closest living relatives are able to adjust gestures flexibly according to social circumstances and individual matrices of their interaction partners.

Play-soliciting gestures in chimpanzees

Social play is a frequent behaviour in great apes, which involves sophisticated forms of gestural exchanges. However, relatively little is known about whether signals are adjusted to specific attributes of conspecifics. Marlen Fröhlich and Simone Pika of the Humboldt Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, in collaboration with Roman Wittig from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, carried out the first study on the exchange of play-soliciting gestures in two chimpanzee communities in their natural environments. The results of this study strengthen the view that our closest living relatives are able to adjust gestures flexibly according to social circumstances and individual matrices of their interaction partners. [more]
Martin Wikelski, director in Radolfzell and honorary professor at the University of Constance receives this year's Max Planck Research Award for his research into the sensory perception of organisms. Using the satellite-based monitoring system Icarus, he is a pioneer in the field of wild animal telemetry.

Martin Wikelski received Max Planck Research Award

Martin Wikelski, director in Radolfzell and honorary professor at the University of Constance receives this year's Max Planck Research Award for his research into the sensory perception of organisms. Using the satellite-based monitoring system Icarus, he is a pioneer in the field of wild animal telemetry. [more]
The list of animal species you can follow with the Animal Tracker increased considerably. New species are:Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures, Himalayan Griffon Vultures, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Black Storks, Bald Eagles, Whooper Swans, and our first mammal species:Black Flying Foxes!Often requested, now implemented: search and filter features!

New Animal Tracker features and species

The list of animal species you can follow with the Animal Tracker increased considerably. New species are:Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures, Himalayan Griffon Vultures, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Black Storks, Bald Eagles, Whooper Swans, and our first mammal species:Black Flying Foxes!
Often requested, now implemented: search and filter features! [more]
Buteo-morph is a hand-on-project of our institute for all interested bird observers: Data is collected throughout whole Europe on the geographical and temporary differences in the distribution of the various morph-types in the common buzzard.

Citizen Science project on plumage colour polymorphism of common buzzards

Buteo-morph is a hand-on-project of our institute for all interested bird observers: Data is collected throughout whole Europe on the geographical and temporary differences in the distribution of the various morph-types in the common buzzard. [more]
 
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