The history of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station

When Konrad Lorenz retired from his directorship at the German Max Planck Society's Institute for Behavioural Physiology at Seewiesen in 1973, at the age of 70, he returned to Austria and searched for a place where he could continue the research with his semi-tame flock of greylag geese. Otto König introduced Konrad Lorenz to HM Ernst August (Duke of Cumberland), who invited him to Grünau. Buildings were adapted, ponds created and soon Lorenz and coworkers started to move the geese from Seewiesen to Grünau. However, nearly 10 years passed until the local flock stabilised again.

The first years of Lorenz' research were still funded by the German Max Planck Society. The Austrian Academy of Sciences took over the payments in 1980. Aside from geese, social development was investigated in other birds, but also in beavers and wild boars. When Konrad Lorenz died in February 1989, the future of the KLF first looked bleak. But starting with July 1990, the Konrad Lorenz Research Station (KLF) continued to operate because of the joint effort of Prof. John Dittami (University of Vienna) and the Government of Upper Austria.

The KLF today

Since July 1990, the Konrad Lorenz Research Station (KLF) operates under the directorship of Prof. Dr. Kurt Kotrschal and with the assistance of Dr. Josef Hemetsberger. Both are permanently assigned to the KLF by the Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Vienna.Until 2012 the legal frame for the KLF was the "Verein der Förderer der Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle".

Since 2012 the KLF is "Core Facility for Behaviour and Cognition". Co-directors are now Dr. Josef Hemetsberger, Prof. Dr. Thomas Bugnyar and Prof. Dr. Eva Millesi. Basic funding is mainly provided by the University of Vienna and by the state of Upper Austria, as well as by other federal and private sources. Further financial support is provided by a society, the "Verein der Förderer der Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle". As public funding is rather limited, we depend on private contributions to continue and expand our work. If you are interested in supporting our work, we would be happy to welcome you as a member of the supporting society.

Research funds are mainly raised by peer-reviewed applications to the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF). The performance of the KLF continues to develop prosperously. For the present state of the affairs see our annual reports.

Research at the KLF

Our main research models are Greylag geese (Anser anser), Common ravens (Corvus corax), Jackdaws (Corvus monedula), and Northern bald ibises (Geronticus eremita). We are interested in the biology of these species, but our questions are fundamentally directed and focus on social mechanisms. We investigate how individuals live together in social groups, what costs and benefits are involved, how personality, individual stress management, steroid hormones (determined from faeces) and social careers are related. Also, we investigate how individual cognition and group knowledge interact and how traditions are formed. Out of this, research on dogs and wolves developed in Vienna and Ernstbrunn.

We maintain collaborations with a number of other research institutions in Austria and abroad. These include the Department of Cognitive Biology and its research station Haidlhof (University of Vienna), the following three Institutes from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna: Institute for Medical Biochemistry (Research Group Stress, Prof. Möstl and Prof. Palme), Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (Prof. Walter Arnold), and the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, the Zoos Schönbrunn (Vienna) and Innsbruck, and a number of other institutions.