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!
Tropical birds generally encounter relatively lesser seasonality in the environment than temperate species. Nevertheless, male silver-beaked tanagers perform a dawn-song behavior seasonally, aligned to minimal increases in day length. Researchers of the Department of Neurobiology and a colleague from the University of Konstanz studied the variation in the use of dietary sources over a year and found that stable carbon, nitrogen and sulfur isotope values for feathers indicate no major changes in the foraging ecology. Testosterone production of males was increased during the dry season, suggesting that male silver-beaked tanagers undergo seasonal reproductive cycles.

Seasonality at the equator

Tropical birds generally encounter relatively lesser seasonality in the environment than temperate species. Nevertheless, male silver-beaked tanagers perform a dawn-song behavior seasonally, aligned to minimal increases in day length. Researchers of the Department of Neurobiology and a colleague from the University of Konstanz studied the variation in the use of dietary sources over a year and found that stable carbon, nitrogen and sulfur isotope values for feathers indicate no major changes in the foraging ecology. Testosterone production of males was increased during the dry season, suggesting that male silver-beaked tanagers undergo seasonal reproductive cycles.


Press releases

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

February 19, 2019

In regions with high rainfall and cold temperatures, most birds have dark plumage colours. This is what a global analysis of colour variation in birds revealed. The study of an international team of researchers with participation of the Max Planck ...

A deeper look inside the sleeping bird brain

February 13, 2019

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 Utrecht University recorded waves of slow activity traveling through ...

Are fish aware of themselves?

February 07, 2019

The ability to perceive and recognise a reflected mirror image as self is considered a hallmark of cognition across species. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, the University of Konstanz, and Osaka City ...

Max Planck researchers support referendum on species diversity

January 31, 2019

Germany has lost the majority of its insects over the past 30 years. Over half of all wild bee species are either endangered or have already gone extinct. This downward trend is also affecting birds: only about half the number of birds are alive ...

No egg is like another

January 04, 2019

Little more than fifty years after the German ornithologist Wolfgang Makatsch published his book entitled “No egg is like another” (Kein Ei gleicht dem anderen), new research at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in collaboration with the Max ...

New Caledonian crows can create compound tools

October 24, 2018

An international team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, and the University of Oxford have revealed that New Caledonian crows are able to create tools by combining two or more otherwise non-functional ...

Institute seminar series in Seewiesen

Jesse Barber, Boise State University: The sensory ecology of bat-insect interactions

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

Thierry Aubin, Université Paris-Sud: Coding strategies in vocal communications of song birds

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

John Tuthill, University of Washington: Neural mechanisms of proprioception and motor control in Drosophila

Apr 4, 2019 10:00 - 11:00
Seewiesen, Room: Seminar Room House4, Tea & Coffee 09.30h

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.

Career and Equal opportunities at the institute


Karriere und Chancengleichheit

Career and Equal opportunity

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