When a male or female white-browed sparrow-weaver begins its song, its partner joins in at a certain time. They duet with each other by singing in turn and precisely in tune. A team led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen found that the nerve cell activity in the brain of the singing bird changes and synchronizes with its partner when the partner begins to sing. The brains of both animals then essentially function as one, which leads to the perfect duet.

The brains of birds synchronize when they sing duets

When a male or female white-browed sparrow-weaver begins its song, its partner joins in at a certain time. They duet with each other by singing in turn and precisely in tune. A team led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen found that the nerve cell activity in the brain of the singing bird changes and synchronizes with its partner when the partner begins to sing. The brains of both animals then essentially function as one, which leads to the perfect duet.
The focus of the new Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour in Radolfzell and Konstanz will be the investigation of Collective Behaviour. Besides of the existing departments of Martin Wikelski and Iain Couzin, another research department will be established. Margaret Crofoot from the University of California in Davis will investigate the formation of complex societies using the group behaviour of monkeys as an example. She is particularly interested in how the collective behaviour of a group emerges from the contacts and relationships between individuals.(Image: Axel Griesch)

The location of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology at the Lake of Konstanz is now an independent institute

The focus of the new Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour in Radolfzell and Konstanz will be the investigation of Collective Behaviour. Besides of the existing departments of Martin Wikelski and Iain Couzin, another research department will be established. Margaret Crofoot from the University of California in Davis will investigate the formation of complex societies using the group behaviour of monkeys as an example. She is particularly interested in how the collective behaviour of a group emerges from the contacts and relationships between individuals.
(Image: Axel Griesch)
Bold great tits lay their eggs earlier when under threat, the shy ones put it off. Such personality differences help maintain the biological variation essential for the survival of populations, as biologists of the MPIO Seewiesen and the LMU in Munich have now shown.

Personalities promote adaptability

Bold great tits lay their eggs earlier when under threat, the shy ones put it off. Such personality differences help maintain the biological variation essential for the survival of populations, as biologists of the MPIO Seewiesen and the LMU in Munich have now shown.
Join the MPI of Animal Behaviouir in Konstanz for the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour summer conference from Monday 26 August to Wednesday 28 August 2019.  For registering and abstract submission click on the image.  Follow us on Twitter (asab2019summer) where we will be posting all the latest announcements and news about the conference.

Welcome to the ASAB 2019 Summer conference ‘New Frontiers in the Study of Animal Behaviour’ in Konstanz, Germany

Join the MPI of Animal Behaviouir in Konstanz for the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour summer conference from Monday 26 August to Wednesday 28 August 2019.

For registering and abstract submission click on the image.

Follow us on Twitter (asab2019summer) where we will be posting all the latest announcements and news about the conference.
In the black coucal sex-roles are reversed: females aggressively defend their territories and males rear the young. Despite the large effort for parental care, males still find opportunities to sire young in nests of other males, although they succeed only half as often as males who are “free” and do not have to tend a brood.

Does parenting hamper the sex life of male black coucals?

In the black coucal sex-roles are reversed: females aggressively defend their territories and males rear the young. Despite the large effort for parental care, males still find opportunities to sire young in nests of other males, although they succeed only half as often as males who are “free” and do not have to tend a brood.
Cooperative breeding may facilitate the development of sophisticated communicative abilities such as intentionality and joint attention skills. Two new studies of researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the University of Osnabrück provide the first evidence that a cooperatively breeding bird species (Arabian babblers) demonstrates distinct hallmarks of joint-attentional skills, which have been traditionally ascribed to humans only. This result also shows that an ape-like cognitive system is not a necessary pre-condition for joint-attention skills.

First evidence for joint attention skills in a nonhuman cooperative breeding species

Cooperative breeding may facilitate the development of sophisticated communicative abilities such as intentionality and joint attention skills. Two new studies of researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the University of Osnabrück provide the first evidence that a cooperatively breeding bird species (Arabian babblers) demonstrates distinct hallmarks of joint-attentional skills, which have been traditionally ascribed to humans only. This result also shows that an ape-like cognitive system is not a necessary pre-condition for joint-attention skills.
It is known that shrews seasonally shrink and regrow brain and skull size by 20 per cent or more.  In their new study, researchers of our intitute show that the seasonal plasticity in shrews’ skull size and body mass depends on environmental factors. Skull size of shrews kept at constant temperature showed a steady decline without regrowing.

Shrews shrink and regrow depending on the environmental conditions

It is known that shrews seasonally shrink and regrow brain and skull size by 20 per cent or more. In their new study, researchers of our intitute show that the seasonal plasticity in shrews’ skull size and body mass depends on environmental factors. Skull size of shrews kept at constant temperature showed a steady decline without regrowing.
In regions with high rainfall and cold temperatures, most birds have dark plumage colours. Researchers around Bart Kempenaers from Seewiesen hereby confirm two rules for coloration in animals, although they are apparently contradictory. The image shows the light coloured Chirruping Wedgebill that lives in the arid and semi-arid interior of Australia. In contrast, the closely related Eastern Whipbird, an inhabitant of more humid coastal region has dark plumage colours.

The rules of colour: rainfall and temperature predict bird colouration on a global scale

In regions with high rainfall and cold temperatures, most birds have dark plumage colours. Researchers around Bart Kempenaers from Seewiesen hereby confirm two rules for coloration in animals, although they are apparently contradictory. The image shows the light coloured Chirruping Wedgebill that lives in the arid and semi-arid interior of Australia. In contrast, the closely related Eastern Whipbird, an inhabitant of more humid coastal region has dark plumage colours.
Birds have good memories, but in contrast to mammals, little is known about how they consolidate memories during sleep. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and colleagues suggest in a new study that birds may process some memories in a different manner from mammals.

Similarities and differences between avian and mammalian sleep and possibly memory consolidation

Birds have good memories, but in contrast to mammals, little is known about how they consolidate memories during sleep. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and colleagues suggest in a new study that birds may process some memories in a different manner from mammals.


Press releases

Icarus is switched on

July 08, 2019

The German-Russian observation system for animal movements, Icarus, will go into operation on 10 July 2019. In the subsequent test phase, the Icarus engineers and scientists will check the system components on the ground, on board the International ...

Each moth escapes its own way

July 02, 2019

Moths perform evasive flights with diverse tactics in order to avoid being eaten by bats. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen found in their new study not only that the diversity of escape tactics is species-specific ...

Female power: Lise Meitner Group Leaders

June 25, 2019

Free scientific development, long-term career security and clear career prospects - these are the cornerstones of the Lise Meitner Excellence Program. In 2018, the MPG launched the four-year pilot phase of the program. Almost 300 candidates seized ...

The brains of birds synchronize when they sing duets

June 12, 2019

When a male or female white-browed sparrow-weaver begins its song, its partner joins in at a certain time. They duet with each other by singing in turn and precisely in tune. A team led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in ...

Every bat travels differently

May 28, 2019

The females of some bat species migrate hundreds of kilometres after hibernation to give birth to their offspring in insect-rich regions. Unlike birds, it is largely unknown how bats keep their energy consumption low during flight. Dina Dechmann and ...

Hunting fruit bats also harms humans

May 27, 2019

According to the report of the World Biodiversity Council IPBES 2019 on the global state of biodiversity, one million animal and plant species are acutely threatened with extinction. In addition, the overexploitation of the last 50 years has led to a ...

Institute seminar series in Seewiesen

Xiang-Yi Li, University of Neuchâtel: Theory models inspired by the life history and ecology of birds

Sep 26, 2019 13:00 - 14:00
Seewiesen, Room: Seminar Room House 4, Tea & Coffee 12:30h

Bibiana Rojas, University of Jyväskylä: Multimodal warning signals in predator-prey interactions

Nov 7, 2019 13:00 - 14:00
Seewiesen, Room: Seminar Room House 4, Tea & Coffee 12:30h

Katja Nowick, FU Berlin: Human Evolution: How Gene Regulatory Factors and their networks might have shaped human specific phenotypes

Nov 14, 2019 13:00 - 14:00
Seewiesen, Room: Seminar Room House 4, Tea & Coffee 12:30h

Michael Romero, Tufts University: Stress Physiology in Conservation: Predicting Human Impacts on Wildlife

Nov 21, 2019 13:00 - 14:00
Seewiesen, Room: Seminar Room House 4, Tea & Coffee 12:30h

Dan Mennill, University of Windsor: Vocal learning in wild birds: the dynamics of vocal learning in nature

Nov 28, 2019 13:00 - 14:00
Seewiesen, Room: Seminar Room House 4, Tea & Coffee 12:30h

Christopher Olson, Midwestern University: Vocal production by bee hummingbirds: from song centers to syrinx

Dec 12, 2019 13:00 - 14:00
Seewiesen, Room: Seminar Room House 4, Tea & Coffee 12:30h

Multimedia


Youtuber "MrWissen2Go" visits Seewiesen (in German)

Video

Youtuber "MrWissenToGo" Mirko Drotschmann visited Seewiesen to talk with Manfred Gahr about why birds sing - or not.

Evolution: Extra-pair paternity in blue tits (in German)

Video

The choice of the perfect partner is also important for blue tits. A good teamwork is required, as up to 10 hungry chicks have to be fed simultaneously. But do they have to live together in a faithful partnership for that? And is this really the best strategy for reproductive success?

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