The sonar system of bats exploits spatial information in a way similar to our sense of sight, despite the different anatomy of eyes and ears. In a new study, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen and the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich have now shown that echoes contain information that allows bats to distinguish differently structured surfaces. On a turbulent water surface for example, a fidgety prey item acoustically stands out even against the clutter of the background waves. (Image Daubenton's bat ©dietmar-nill.de)

Hearing in 3D

The sonar system of bats exploits spatial information in a way similar to our sense of sight, despite the different anatomy of eyes and ears. In a new study, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen and the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich have now shown that echoes contain information that allows bats to distinguish differently structured surfaces. On a turbulent water surface for example, a fidgety prey item acoustically stands out even against the clutter of the background waves. (Image Daubenton's bat ©dietmar-nill.de)
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 Department of Collective Behaviour 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 Department of Collective Behaviour 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.
Scientists from the German-Russian animal observation system Icarus have equipped 30 mammal species in Namibia with electronic ear tags. These include elephants, different species of antelopes, wildebeest, giraffes, zebras and leopards. The test phase for the Icarus observation system, which will span the whole Earth, is due to start in  2019. This was preceded by Russian cosmonauts installing the Icarus antenna on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) and connecting it to the on-board computer in mid-August 2018.

Protecting mammals in Africa through observations from space

Scientists from the German-Russian animal observation system Icarus have equipped 30 mammal species in Namibia with electronic ear tags. These include elephants, different species of antelopes, wildebeest, giraffes, zebras and leopards. The test phase for the Icarus observation system, which will span the whole Earth, is due to start in  2019. This was preceded by Russian cosmonauts installing the Icarus antenna on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) and connecting it to the on-board computer in mid-August 2018.
Iain Couzin, director of the department Collective Behaviour and Professor at the University of Konstanz, has been named in the annual Highly Cited Researchers 2018 List. Now in its fifth year, the list by Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thompson Reuters) recognizes researchers whose citation records position them in the highest ranks of influence and impact as determined by their peers around the globe. Congratulations!

Iain Couzin is on Clarivate Analytics list of highly cited researchers 2018

Iain Couzin, director of the department Collective Behaviour and Professor at the University of Konstanz, has been named in the annual Highly Cited Researchers 2018 List. Now in its fifth year, the list by Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thompson Reuters) recognizes researchers whose citation records position them in the highest ranks of influence and impact as determined by their peers around the globe. Congratulations!


Press releases

New Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior

May 07, 2019

The Max Planck Society has announced a commitment to advancing the study of animal behaviour in an era shaped by rapid technological change. The new Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior will focus on quantitative research into the collective ...

Hearing in 3D

April 23, 2019

The sonar system of bats exploits spatial information in a way similar to our sense of sight, despite the different anatomy of eyes and ears. In a new study, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen and the Ludwig ...

'We can't simply lock up animals in protected areas'

April 23, 2019

With its annual report "Environment Frontiers", the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) outlines the challenges that will have a decisive influence on the natural foundations of life on our planet in the future. In their report 2018/2019, the ...

Attention skills in a nonhuman cooperative breeding species

April 10, 2019

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 ...

Seal hunting with the Great White Shark

April 10, 2019

The great white shark is one of the most fascinating marine animals on earth. Although many films and books portray it as an insatiable predator, in fact virtually nothing is known about its hunting behaviour. An international team of scientists ...

Does parenting hamper the sex life of male black coucals?

April 10, 2019

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, as a team of ...

Institute seminar series in Seewiesen

The next series of talks will start in autumn this year.

Multimedia


Icarus – on the move with animals

Icarus – on the move with animals

Video

The animals of our planet are constantly in motion – some may fly, swim, or migrate thousands of kilometers; others move just a few hundred metres. They all have one thing in common, however: little is known about their journeys. Icarus should change this in the next years. By increasing our knowledge about animal migration, we can learn more about the state of our planet.

Evolution - lohnende Seitensprünge

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?

Youtuber "MrWissen2Go" zu Besuch in Seewiesen

Youtuber "MrWissen2Go" visits Seewiesen (in German)

Video

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

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