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Frequently Asked Questions

How old do bald ibis, greylag geese and ravens get?

Up to 30, 40 and 50 years according to captive individuals.

Is a raven more intelligent than a goose?

Depends what is meant by “intelligence”. Ravens are capable of withholding information from conspecifics, are good at solving technical problems and are amazingly inventive. Geese are less gifted in those respect, but are capable of knowing social positions and relations of more than hundred conspecifics, which is amazing social intelligence.

What new, if anything, can still be investigated in the greylag geese after 70 years of research?

If our topic would be “the biology of the greylag goose”, some end would be reached. However, geese are still valuable research models for answering basic questions. After it became clear, for example, that maternal hormones in the yolk affect offspring personality, we asked, how that in turn, would affect social roles of offspring, etc. It is intrinsic to the hypothetico-deductive, Aristotelian method of science that an end of questions is never reached. Thereby, scientific theories assymptotically approach the “reality of nature” (whatever that may be), but will never get there (i.e. never finding final answers to all possible questions.

Are the zoo-bred Waldrapp ibis too “degenerate” ever to be released in Europe again?

No. This ibis is zoo bred for a few generations. The free-living Grünau group consists of hand-raised zoo offspring, which have shown their natural instincts and the full behavioural repertoire, for example, natural foraging behaviour, long distance orientation, successful reproduction and the formation of group-specific traditions. We are therefore confident, that birds from zoo-offspring are suitable for re-introduction.

What (if any) relevance has behavioural work with geese, ravens or ibis for humans?

The evolutionary explanation of human behaviour and social dispositions need a comparative approach. Results from greylag geese are certainly not directly relevant towards humans. However, principles are and working hypotheses, for example, on social organization, can be tested in humans.

What use is the research of the KLF?

Basic research is never aimed at immediate economic benefits. Rather, our work contributes to answer the basic questions of philosophy, notably who we are and where we are coming from (“we” meaning life in general). Significant innovations alway come from basic science, never from the applied side. Such, KLF results (on personality, the bald ibis work, etc.) have their spinoffs towards nature and species conservation management..

Is the KLF a research station of the University of Vienna?

Yes, since 2012 the KLF is officially integrated into the University of Vienna as "Core Facility KLF for Behaviour and Cognition".

Is there enough money for the KLF to continue?

Basically yes. Basic funding  is mainly provided from the University of Vienna and from the state of Upper Austria, as well as from federal and private sources. Research is mainly funded via applications to the FWF and to start new projects we usually need extra money. The need for active fund raising however, is one of the time constraints on research.

How much money does the KLF need per year?

Approx. 60 000 euro p.a. are needed to cover the basic expenses (excluding personnel) and another 100 000 euro for research. Starting new projects (for example, jackdaws, wolves) may cost considerably more.

How many persons are working at the KLF?

There are two permanent positions and a varying number of staff on “soft money”, volunteers and practicum students, so there are alway between 10-16 persons working at the KLF.

Which value has the “classical”, Lorenzian ethology for modern behavioural biology?

Some of the Lorenzian concepts, for example the “fixed action patterns” are still fundamental today, but due to the development of the field are not in the centre of interest of mainstream behavioural biology any more.

Was Konrad Lorenz a Nazi?

Yes and no. He was NSDAP member (also for opportunistic reasons) and supported some aspects of eugenics. But as an independent mind he never adopted NAZI ideology, nor was he enthusiastic about most aspects of that regime. The fact that he was finally sent to Russia to fight as a simple soldier shows that he could not have been a big shot in this regime.

How does the KLF publish its results?

The scientific results are usually published in peer-reviewed international journals. Furthermore, the KLF makes a big effort towards public relations: guided tours are offered weekly and reports are regularly being published in newspapers and other magazines.

Is the KLF engaged in education?

Indeed, especially during the past few years the KLF actively invested in early science education programs. Several schools of the regions and their pupils were involved in research with Greylag geese and Bald Ibises.


Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle
Fischerau 11
4645 Grünau

T: +43 7616 8510
University of Vienna | Universitätsring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43-1-4277-0