Dr. habil. Stefan Leitner

Research Scientist
Department Gahr
MPI for Ornithology Seewiesen
+49 8157 932-389

Main Focus

Research Interests

Song learning in songbirds

Many songbirds learn their songs early in life from a song model. In the absence of such a model they often develop an improvised song that differs from the species-typical song.
However, the variables that control song learning in a natural social context are largely unknown. The domesticated canary is a suitable model to address this question.

Genetic and environmental influences on song development
Investigation of both environmental and genetic effects upon the development of male song, female choice and their underlying neural and hormonal mechanisms. The zebra finch is a suitable model to address this question.

Environmental impact on reproductive performance in songbirds
Environmental factors influence physiology and behaviour of an individual to a varying degree depending at which life history stage they are experienced. I am interested to what extent environmental cues other than photoperiod (supplementary cues) are influencing reproductive decisions. The wild canary is a suitable model to address this question.

Neural correlates of song in the songbird genus Serinus
Investigating the relationship between neural space and the development of complex songs.

Prof. Kate L. Buchanan (Deakin University, Australia)
Dr. Cornelia Voigt (University of Pretoria, South Africa)

Domesticated canary © C. Voigt

A wild canary at a temporary pond on Ilhéu
Chão island (Madeira, 32°35’N,16°32’W)

Serin HVC - Nissl staining

Curriculum Vitae

since 2014: Head of Animal Care at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen
2011: "Professeur invité", Université Paris X
2010: Guest scientist at Deakin University, Geelong, Australia
since 2008: Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen
2008: Habilitation in Zoology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, title: Impact of environmental factors on the neuroendocrine control of reproductive behaviours in songbirds.
1999-2008: Post Doctoral Research Assistant at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK (RHUL)
1995-1999: PhD thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Physiology, Seewiesen: Seasonality of song behaviour, steroid hormones and neuroanatomy in free living island canaries (Serinus canaria).
1988-1994: Study of Biology at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. Diploma thesis: Comparison of the macro-invertebrate fauna in a torrent and a reservoir-outlet on natural and artificial substrata.

Professional Services
Associate Editor of the journal Behaviour
Council member of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) 2011-2013
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