That was the Citizen Science Action Day 2018...

As part of the 4th Austrian Citizen Science Conference, an action day was organized in the city of Salzburg on Saturday, February 3, 2018 in the spirit of "Citizens Participate in Research!". We were also represented with a stand on the topic of "Greylag geese, northern bald ibis and common ravens: Citizen Science in the Almtal region". Many interesting stations, such as "Project Roadkill", "Game of Clones - Pupils model the spread and control of the Japanese knotweed", "(Ent)Zündende Sehnenforschung", "BLACK.ICE - the glaciers become greener" and "Stall Catchers" invited to join in and immerse in the research.

Greylag geese adjust their body temperature to season and reproductive context

The researchers investigated energy management in greylag geese. The results show that geese cope with the winter climate by reducing their heart rate and body temperature.

Publication in "Scientific Reports":

Wascher, C.A.F., Kotrschal, K., Arnold, W. (2018) Free-living greylag geese adjust their heart rates and body core temperatures to season and reproductive context. Scientific Reports 8(1): 2142

Pairbond with benefits

The breeding season is very challenging for northern bald ibis parents. As a result the immune system of the birds is additionally burdened and there is an increased risk of infection. However, being well embedded in a social network may reduce stress. This was detected in the present study. The researchers accompanied the northern bald ibises during and outside the breeding season and examined the stress hormones of the animals.

Publication in "PLOS ONE":

Puehringer-Sturmayr, V., Wascher, C.A.F., Loretto, M.-C., Palme, R., Stoewe, M., Kotrschal, K., Frigerio, D. (2018) Seasonal differences of corticosterone metabolite concentrations and parasite burden in northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita): The role of affiliative interactions. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0191441


New PhD Candidate

We welcome our new colleague Lara Iaiza from the University of Udine! Lara will join us for the next three years for her PhD with Dr. Didone Frigerio on avian pair-bond behaviour and social dynamics in a comparative setting, supported by citizen scientists.

Visit of the Pupils of the Talenteakademie

What’s the name of this common raven? Do common ravens prefer left or right? What is telemetry and how does it work? Do paired greylag geese behave differently compared to singles?

These exciting questions were answered together with the pupils of the talente Hochbegabtenförderung Upper Austria (Schloss Traunsee Academy) in December 2017. Within three days the pupils got a small insight into the work of the scientists of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station. During the practical part, they were able to deepen the learned theory and to record and evaluate their own data. The students were able to recognize selected common ravens by their wing tags and test whether the clever black birds prefer left or right if they have the choice between two pieces of food. In a scavenger hunt GPS stations were hidden, which the students should find using telemetry. Finally, the students observed whether there is a difference in the behavior of paired and unpaired greylag geese. We see this event as a task within the Third Mission of the University of Vienna. The feedback was very positive, a follow-up course will take place in February.

Calls during agonistic interactions vary with arousal and raise audience attention in ravens

A new paper was published recently in Frontiers in Zoology, showing that defensive calls uttered during aggressive interactions between Common ravens encode arousal-based changes previously shown to vary with arousal in mammals. Furthermore, experimentally manipulated defensive calls were played back to test the responses of bystanding ravens to calls indicating increased arousal. Read the full open access article here!

Differential responses to gosling distress calls in parental and non-parental Greylag Geese

A new paper on distress calls in Greylag goslings was published in Journal of Ornithology. The authors investigated the responses of parental and non-parental males and females to the distress calls of their own and foreign goslings. Parental geese responded to any distress calls with vigilance, irrespective of the familiarity. Non-parental geese showed increased comfort behaviour instead. In parental geese, the females were more vigilant than parental males, suggesting differences in parental investment between males and females.

Il comportamento "motore dell'evoluzione"?

We draw the attention on the course held by the Postgraduate School of Philosophy, Ethics and Ethology (University of Cassino, Italy) with this year's topic on "Il comportamento motore dell'evoluzione?" (Is the behaviour the engine of evolution?), where Prof. Dr. Kurt Kotrschal is participating.

If you are interested, please find more information on the website or download the programme here.

Visit of the Dean's Team

The dean's team, together with the dean's office staff of the Faculty of Life Sciences, visited us from the 2nd to the 3rd of November. The social programme included a visit of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station with the greylag geese flock, a slow-paced walk through der Cumberland gamepark Grünau visiting the northern bald ibis and corvid aviaries as well as a visit to Oberganslbach and the Almsee.

We very much enjoyed the visit!

Family size modulates different components of the immune system in fledgling Greylag geese

A new paper on "Leucocyte profiles and family size in fledgling Geylag Geese (Anser anser)" was recently published. The authors investigated whether leucocyte profiles in fledglings are influenced by family size, individual charcteristics (i.e. age, body condition or sex) or characteristics of the parents (i.e. previous reproductive success). Family size may have a stress-reducing effect.

Publication in "Avian Biology Research":
Wascher, C. A. F., Hemetsberger, J., Kotrschal, K., & Frigerio, D. (2017). Leucocyte profiles and family size in fledgling Geylag Geese (Anser anser). Avian Biology Research10(4), 246–252.

Austrian conservation price goes to Prof. Dr. Kurt Kotrschal!

The "Naturschutzbund" awarded Kurt Kotrschal with the Austrian conservation price on Thursday, 19 October 2017. He was honored for his achievements in representing environmental scientific topics and his civil courage in conservation.


New PhD position available!

We are happy to announce a new PhD position at the Konrad Lorenz Research Station in Grünau im Almtal (Upper Austria):

  • Research field of animal behaviour
  • 3 years
  • 20 hours per week
  • Free accommodation at the KLF

Please find more information in the attachment and feel free to spread the announcement to colleagues and friends.

Thank you in advance!

New projects started

Three projects (PI Dr. Didone Frigerio) started at the beginning of September 2017.

  1. Visible Science
    Which behavioural patterns modulate the reproductive success of long-term monogamous pair bonds (e.g. between ravens or greylag geese)? Which behavioural patterns differ between ravens and Northern bald ibises, even though they show similar breeding strategies? The data collection via videos (provided on a platform) and an App will enable lay people to be actively involved in this project, which will mainly take place at the Cumberland wildpark in Gr
    ünau im Almtal.

    Forschen im Almtal (Android, Apple)
    Link to the project:

  2. GRASS: Greylag geese as a model for animal social systems - Modulation of circannual behavioural and foraging patterns by social factors: the Greylag goose (Anser anser) as a model
    We investigate the modulation of circannual behavioural and foraging patterns by social factors. Pupils will participate in this project by joining the survey of the time-space pattern of the greylag geese and by acting as multipliers for the further focus on Citizen Science.

    Link to the project:[id]=1247

  3. NBI goes Citizen Science - Involving young and old citizen scientists in monitoring habitat use of the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita)
    Do Northern bald ibises select their foraging grounds according to habitat quality or rather because of traditions? Interested lay people are invited to participate in this project and collect data via an App on the whereabouts of our individually marked ibis colony.

    App: WaldrApp (Android, Apple)
    Link to the project:


The apps are already online and downloadable from Google Play Store (Android) or from iTunes Store (Apple). You can also enter the collected data on the following website:

You are welcome to join the projects and help with data collection. All data collected from lay people will be used, analysed and published in peer-reviewed journals. More information on the projects and apps will soon be provided on our homepage.

Northern Bald Ibis exhibition

In October 2017, our Northern bald ibis exhibition started at the centre of the national park Kalkalpen in Molln (first floor, in front of the library), which will run for one year. Information on the critically endangered bird, our projects and findings are provided. You are welcome to visit it.

!!! Northern Bald Ibis wanted !!!

Part of the free-flying colony of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station in Grünau im Almtal (Austria) started to explore the world. We already received sightings from Lower Austria, Carinthia, Czech Republic, Poland,

Have you also sighted some of our juvenile Northern bald ibises (they still have grey feathers on their heads)? If YES, the following information would be important for us:




  • Where are the Northern bald ibises?
  • How many are there?
  • Are you able to identify the coloured leg rings using a binocular?

If you have sightings, please contact us:
Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle
Fischerau 11
A-4645 Gr
ünau im Almtal
Tel.: +43 7616 8510

Thank you very much in advance for your support!

Biologicum Almtal

From the 5th to the 8th October 2017 the fourth Biologicum Almtal took place in Grünau im Almtal. Kurt Kotrschal, Redouan Bshary, Karin Luger, Friedrich Schneider, Jorg Massen, Monika Betzler and Martin Kocher talked about the principle of cooperation from biological, economical and philosophical perspectives. We had an amazing few days with inspiring discussions.

French film team

A French film team visited the Konrad Lorenz Research Station from the 29th to the 30th September 2017. They are making a documentary on the research from our colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön (Germany)  about the migration routes of blackcaps (equipped with geo-locators). In addition, Josef Hemetsberger was interviewed on the non-migratory behaviour of our greylag geese flock.

New colleagues/students

We welcome our new colleagues & students!

Georgine Szipl (University of Vienna) is our new Post-doc within the project GRASS Greylag geese as a model for animal social systems.

Christiane Steinbacher (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences) started her master project working on the social integration of juvenile ravens into a non-breeding group.

Katrin Herzhauser (University of Colonge) will complete her bachelor thesis on development of social behaviour in juvenile ravens: testing effects on object play and food access.

Michaela Syrová and Jana Nácarová (University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic) are joining us again to investigate the reactions of ravens to heterospecific alarm calls.

Katharina Buchegger started her voluntary environmental year and will join us for 9 months. 

Tanja Czerny (University of Vienna) joins us for 3 months as a scientific project assistant within the project NBI goes Citizen Science Involving young and old citizen scientists in monitoring habitat use of the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita)".