New paper on urban kestrels

Slide with the most important findings from the publication presented graphically

New paper by MSc alumni Tom Nilles, Lukas Hochleitner and colleagues on urban kestrels showing that nestlings which were being raised in more urbanised areas displayed, unrelated to the burden of ectoparasites, a more bluish face colouration and an overall less intense colouration which was furthermore associated with a lower concentration of circulating carotenoids absorbed through the diet. Our results support the hypothesis that the entire urban food chain is carotenoid deprived and only prey of low quality with low carotenoid content is available (e.g., fewer carotenoids in urban trees -> insects -> small birds -> kestrels).

Publication in The Science of Nature:
Sumasgutner, P., Nilles, T., Hykollari, A., de Chapa, M.M., Isaksson, C., Hochleitner, L., Renner, S. & Fusani, L. (2023) Integument colouration and circulating carotenoids in relation to urbanisation in Eurasian kestrels (Falco tinnunculus). The Science of Nature, 110.

 New paper: Absence of Referential Alarm Calls in Long‑term Allopatry from the Referent

Small, mostly yellow bird with coloured leg rings in the hand of a person

Communication signals that denote specific objects in the environment, known as referential signals, are shaped by several ecologically important drivers, such as the extent of geographic overlap between signalers and referents, social learning, and direct experience with the referent. In this study, we measure vocal and physical response to familiar and unfamiliar sound stimuli in yellow warblers on the Galapagos Islands. The yellow warbler is a useful focal species to explore questions about the contexts in which referential alarm calls occur because of the specificity for production of its anti-parasitic “seet” calls and because multiple populations of yellow warblers exist with varying exposure to obligate brood parasites. Our study explores referential alarm calling in a context without personal or social experience/learning (due to ~ 300,000 year insular separation from mainland brood parasites), and the findings are starkly different, as no anti-parasitic calls were produced at all on the Galapagos Islands, compared to mainland warblers allopatric from brood parasites for only ~ 6000 years, which are still able to produce referential anti-parasitic calls.

Publication in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology:
Lawson S L, Fernandez-Duque F, Enos JK, Kleindorfer S, Ward MP, Gill SA, Hauber ME (2023).  Absence of referential alarm calls in long-term allopatry from the referent: A casy study with Galapagos Yellow Warblers. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 77:99

 New Alumnus: Sophie Horlebein

Female sitting on a bench in front of a building, a greylag goose is close to her

Congratulations to Sophie Horlebein on her graduation! Sophie has worked on "Egg turning behavior and hatching success in Greylag geese (Anser anser)", and thus completed the MSc program Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition at the University of Vienna. The thesis was supervised by PD Dr. Didone Frigerio (University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 Welcome Varalika

female researcher with climbing helmet holds a young eagle

We welcome our new PhD student Varalika Jain! Varalika is specializing in the analysis of movement and accelerometer data from GPS-tagged eagles, with a focus on understanding their responses to spatial and temporal patterns in human activity. She holds an MSc in Conservation Biology from the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, where she worked on common ravens and their exploitation of anthropogenic food sources. Varalika is passionate about developing open-source, accessible methods and code to analyse both animal and human movement data, and is particularly interested in applying bio-logging as a tool to tackle various conservation challenges.

 New paper: Genetic Analysis of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) from the Mongol-Altai: A Hotspot of Diversity and Implications for Global Phylogeography

In this paper we explore large-scale biogeographic patterns of Golden Eagles and specifically focus on the understudied Eastern Palearctic region. In West Mongolia, the Altai Kazakh eagle hunters traditionally collect wild Golden Eagle nestlings from eyries or trap juveniles on passage during seasonal movement and migration, providing us researchers with the unique opportunity to sample falconry eagles for population genetic analyses. We analysed a 402-bp fragment of the mitochondrial control region and 14 nuclear microsatellite loci in combination with previously published genetic data to assess phylogeographic patterns, levels of genetic diversity, and fine-scale structuring. Golden Eagles in the Mongol-Altai Mountains exhibited overall high levels of genetic diversity and mitochondrial DNA data across the species' geographic range revealed patterns that might reflect past climatic oscillations. Northern Europe may have been recolonized by Golden Eagles from the Eastern Palearctic region, and continental populations might still be connected by long-distance dispersers, but the Eastern Palearctic and Nearctic were likely connected via Beringia during the Quaternary and are today largely isolated from each other.

Publication in Journal of Raptor Research:

Nebel C, Haring E, Murgatroyd M, Sumasgutner SC, Gombobaatar S, Sumasgutner P, Zachos FE: Genetic Analysis of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) from the Mongol-Altai: A Hotspot of Diversity and Implications for Global Phylogeography. J Raptor Res 2023, 57(3):1-16, 16.

An Eagle hunter and a Scientist with an Eagle

 Welcome Avila

Portrait of a young woman with a raven on her shoulder

Avila is studying Ecology in the Master's program at the RPTU - University of Kaiserslautern-Landau and completed a semester abroad at the University of Vienna in the field of behavioral, neurological and cognitive biology. For her master's thesis at the KLF, she is investigating the predatory behavior of ravens in captivity at different developmental stages and in different contexts.

 New paper: Smaller Australian raptors have greater urban tolerance

In this paper we use community science data sourced from eBird to investigate the urban tolerance of 24 Australian raptor species at a continental scale. We ranked species from positive to negative responses to urbanisation and gathered trait data from the published literature to assess whether certain traits (body mass, nest substrate, habitat type, feeding guild, and migratory status) were associated with urban tolerance. Out of the 24 species analysed, 13 species showed tolerance profiles for urban environments (positive response), and 11 species showed avoidance profiles for urban environments (negative response). Smaller raptors had greater urban tolerance than larger raptors why our study provides impetus to conserve native habitat and improve urban conditions for larger-bodied raptor species to conserve Australian raptor diversity. We will build on these findings with more in-depths studies on Nankeen kestrels, a small-bodied Australian falcon that inhabits human-modified and natural landscapes alike.

Publication in Scientific Reports:
Headland T, Colombelli-Négrel D, Callaghan CT, Sumasgutner SC, Kleindorfer S, Sumasgutner P: Smaller Australian raptors have greater urban tolerance. Scientific Reports 2023, 13(1):11559.

Kestrel held by a female scientist

Picture: Sonia Kleindorfer

 New paper: Age effects in Darwin's finch males

portrait of young female scientist holding a small bird

Older age can be beneficial and in animals, more experienced individuals may select different nesting areas that increase survival. This study on Darwin's finches tests if older males build safer nests in areas with greater vegetation cover and -- because vegetation cover is associated with biodiversity richness -- if these nest sites also have greater avian species diversity assessed using song. We compared patterns in Darwin’s Small Tree Finch (Camarhynchus parvulus) and Darwin’s Small Ground Finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) as males build the nest in both systems. We measured vegetation cover, nesting height, and con- vs. heterospecific songs per minute at 55 nests (22 C. parvulus, 33 G. fuliginosa). As expected, in both species, older males built nests in areas with more vegetation cover and these nests had less predation. A novel finding is that nests of older males also had more heterospecific singing neighbors. Future research could test whether older males outcompete younger males for access to preferred nest sites that are more concealed and sustain a greater local biodiversity. The findings also raise questions about the ontogenetic and fitness consequences of different acoustical experiences for developing nestlings inside the nest.

Publication in Journal of Ornithology:
Huge AC, Adreani NM, Colombelli-Négrel D, Akçay C, Common LK, Kleindorfer S (2023). Age effects in Darwin’s finches: older males build more concealed nests in areas with more heterospecific singing neighbours. Journal of Ornithology.

 New Alumnus: Alexander Ruf

Young man in raven aviary with raven sitting on arm

Congratulations to Alexander Ruf on his graduation! Alex has worked on "Effects of early social experiences on exploration and foraging in juvenile ravens (Corvus corax)", and thus completed the MSc program Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition at the University of Vienna. The thesis was supervised by Prof. Dr. Thomas Bugnyar (University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 New paper: personality traits are consistent within but not across life stages in a wild songbird

singing bird on branch, bright blue and black, colored banding on legs

When does personality become a consistent trait across different life stages? To answer this, we measured personality in nestling, fledgling, and adult birds in the superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus). We assessed (1) boldness (response to human handling, at all three stages), (2) exploration (response to a novel environment, in fledglings and adults) and (3) aggressiveness (response to mirror-image stimulation, in fledglings and adults). Personality differences were often consistent within life stages but never across them. By adulthood, all three personality traits were repeatable. Our results suggest that long-term personality traits may not become entrenched until adulthood in this species.

Publication in Behaviour:
Katsis, A., Common, L., Hauber, M., Colombelli-Négrel, D., & Kleindorfer, S. (2023). From nestling to adult: personality traits are consistent within but not across life stages in a wild songbird, Behaviour (published online ahead of print 2023). doi:

 We would like to introduce our new PostDoc: Dr. Lauren Common

Young woman waring a hat, songbird sits on brim of hat

We warmly welcome Lauren and look forward to working with her!

Dr. Lauren Common is a parasitologist and ornithologist fascinated by invasive species, reproductive behaviour and personality in birds and insects. Lauren recently completed her PhD at Flinders University supervised by Prof. Sonia Kleindorfer and colleagues. Her thesis explored the changing host-parasite dynamics between Darwin's finches and the invasive blood-sucking Avian Vampire Fly (Philornis downsi). As a part of her postdoc, Lauren will continue her research into the genetics of the Avian Vampire Fly across the archipelago, and its consequences for the conservation of the avifauna of the Galapagos.

 Visit Dean's office and Dean Team

group of 12 people in front of the KLF building

We were very pleased about the visit of the Dean's team and the team of the Dean's office of the Faculty of Life Sciences of the University of Vienna!

 New paper: Impact of drones on fitness and energy demand in koalas

Koala in a tree

Picture: Diane Colombelli-Negrel

Koala are suffering population crashes after the devastating bushfires in Australia in recent years, and urgent conservation monitoring is needed. Drones can be useful to monitor species across large landscapes and difficult-to-access areas. But what impact do drones have on animals? We developed a non-invasive methodology to measure heart rate in koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) using a Fitbit and investigated the behavioural (vigilance behaviour) and physiological (heart rate and breathing rate) responses of captive koalas to drones. We showed for the first time that heart rate values in koalas can be accurately obtained with a Fitbit. Koalas responded to a drone flight conducted 15 m above their heads with a short-term increase in vigilance, but no change in heart rate or breathing rate. Our results suggest that drones may not have long-term detrimental effects on koalas’ fitness or energy demands and adds to the growing literature investigating animals’ responses to drones to help develop best practices for drone monitoring.

Publication in Applied Animal Behaviour Science:
Colombelli-Négrel, D., Sach, I.Z., Hough, I., Hodgson, J.C., Daniels, C.B. and Kleindorfer, S., 2023. Koalas showed limited behavioural response and no physiological response to drones. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, p.105963.

 Visit by Dr. Barbara Klump

We enjoyed a visit by Dr. Barbara Klump, the newest tenure track professor at the University of Vienna. Barbara studies tool use and innovation in birds! 

Selfie of two women, a flock of greylag geese in the background

A woman on a bench in front of an old building, 2 greylag geese, a bucket with grain for the geese

 New paper: Quality of contributions to bird monitoring by Citizen Scientists

Three girls in snow with clipboard and stopwatch watching greylag geese

Picture: Daniel Fessl

Long-term monitoring of  data on animal behavior is an important source for science to develop new, testable hypotheses. For the collection of such long-term data, the involvement and participation of citizen scientists is an asset for science and society. Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr, Didone Frigerio and colleagues have evaluated the reliability of the data collected in this way in a study. Together with citizen scientists, they investigated the spatial distribution of three model bird species (gray geese, wood bustards and common ravens) and evaluated the accuracy of the data collected by the volunteers.

Publication in Environmental Research Letters:
Pühringer-Sturmayr V, Rittenschober J, Gegendorfer G, Kleindorfer S, Frigerio D (2023). Assessing quality of contributions to avian monitoring by non-scientists: a case study on individually banded wild birds. Environ. Res. Lett. 18.

 New paper: Darwin’s finches in human-altered environments sing common song types and are more aggressive

Human behavior can have strong effects on animal behavior. A major gap in knowledge is whether human activity affects culturally transmitted traits in animals. In songbirds, song is a cultural trait because it is learned from a tutor every generation anew and passed on the the next generation. In this study in Darwin's finches on the Galapagos, we investigated whether songs (a cultural trait) and aggressiveness (a personality trait) differed along a gradient of human activity levels. We found effects of human activity on both variables: birds produced the common syllable type in areas with more human activity, and these birds were also more aggressive. Our results support the idea that human-impacted environments may select jointly for specific behavioral phenotypes such as aggression as well as common cultural traits.

Publication in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution:
Colombelli-Négrel D, Akcay C, Kleindorfer S (2023). Darwin’s finches in human-altered environments sing common song types and are more aggressive. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 11.

darwin's medium tree finch on the back of a chair of a restaurant patio, in the background a harbor.

Picture: S. Kleindorfer

Darwin's small ground finch on a patio table.

Picture: S. Kleindorfer

 New paper: How Warming Temperatures Affect Breeding Behavior in Graylag Geese

The authors investigated if and how environmental changes, such as a long-term increase in temperature and milder winters, affect the reproduction of a population of graylag geese. To do that, data for 29 years were collected — by monitoring temperature, the number of eggs laid, and the number of young birds that survive to adulthood. A temperature increase over time (an effect of climate change) was found, and that higher average temperatures had a positive effect on the reproductive success of the geese.

Publication in "Frontiers for young minds":
Frigerio D, Hemetsberger F, Sumasgutner P, Kotrschal K, Kleindorfer S and Hemetsberger J (2023) How Warming Temperatures Affect Breeding Behavior in Graylag Geese. Front. Young Minds. 11:922688. doi: 10.3389/frym.2023.922688

Picture: FYM

 Welcome Jakob

We welcome our new master's student Jakob Schorn who is studying Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition (Master) at the University of Vienna. For his Master's thesis Jakob will investigate Species -diversity and -dominance among secondary hole nesting birds with varying degrees of human presence at three different nesting sites near the Konrad Lorenz Research Center.

 Welcome Iraí

We welcome our new master's student Iraí Paetow de Jesus who is studying Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition (Master) at the University of Vienna. For his Master's thesis Iraí will investigate whether greylag geese are able to distinguish life-size images of themselves, mates and other conspecifics. He also wants to find out if the agonistic behaviour of males is more common during the mating season.

 Happy Easter!

Picture: J. Hemetsberger

Happy Easter and wonderful holidays!

 Welcome Johanna

We welcome our new master's student Johanna Weber, who is studying Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition (Master) at the University of Vienna. For her Master's thesis Johanna is investigating "Occupancy preference and breeding success in secondary hole-nesting birds depending on nest box material and familiarity".

 Welcome Alper

We welcome our new PhD student Alper Yelimlieş! For his PhD Alper will be focussing on linking song and personality in Darwin's tree finches.

 Welcome Arnout

Arnout is studying Biology at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, with a focus on behavioural ecology. Back in the Netherlands, he did his master thesis on the alarm calls of magpies. Arnout is at the KLF for a research internship, where he will study the behaviour of ravens with the topic: Effects of novelty on feeding behaviour of ravens.

 Welcome Marina

We welcome our new master's student Marina Gehbauer, who is studying Biology and Environmental Education (Master) at the University of Vienna. For her Master's thesis Marina is analysing whether the informal contact with Eurasian kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) triggers positive emotions and might increase awareness for conservation issues and willingness to engage in conservation activities.

 10th anniversary: Biologicum Almtal Sept. 28 - Oct. 1

We are pleased to welcome you to the Biologicum Almtal 2023 with theme “Pioneering Spirit and Cooperation”.
2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Konrad Lorenz Research Center and the 10th anniversary of the Biologicum Almtal. We honour the pioneering spirits of the scientists of the past centuries who paved the way for understanding complex animal societies.

In addition to a much better understanding of the genetic foundations of life, over the past century we have gained tremendous insights into individual differences on the one hand and the variance around social organization on the other. In this year's Biologicum Almtal, we will highlight human partnerships that shape fundamental knowledge shifts in the natural sciences as well as showcase model systems from the animal kingdom that opened our eyes to societies with leaders and followers and high levels of cooperation.

Biologicum Almtal and Junior Biologicum will take place under the scientific lead of Sonia Kleindorfer and Didone Frigerio, the general organization will be done by staff members of the Konrad Lorenz Research Center in cooperation with the Internationale Akademie Traunkirchen.

We are looking forward to a lively exchange in the beautiful, early autumn Almtal, with exciting lectures and discussions, eventful excursions, a pub quiz as an entertaining evening program accompanied by culinary delights.

More information and registration (coming soon):

 New paper: Prenatal sound experience affects song preferences in male zebra finches

Picture: Andrew Katsis

Australian zebra finches (Taeniopygia castanotis) produce a high-pitched ‘heat call’ when ambient temperatures are high. Previous research suggests that hearing these heat calls inside the egg can alter an offspring’s development and behaviour after hatching, including from which adults they learn to sing. In this study, Andrew Katsis and colleagues artificially incubated male zebra finch embryos while exposing them to recordings of either heat calls (treatment) or contact calls (control). After hatching, offspring were raised to adulthood in a colony environment, then their song preferences were tested using a choice apparatus. Adult males had different song preferences depending on the sounds they heard before hatching: treatment birds preferred nonpaternal song over their social father's song, while control birds showed no preference.

Publication in Animal Behaviour:
A.C. Katsis, A.T.D. Bennett, K.L. Buchanan, S. Kleindorfer & M.M. Mariette (2023) Prenatal sound experience affects song preferences in male zebra finches. Animal Behaviour199, 1-9. doi:

 Congratulations to Anna Fabbri: Gwinner-Award for best poster

Big congratulations to Anna Fabbri for receiving the Eberhard-Gwinner-Award for the best poster. The Gwinner Award for outstanding scientific presentations is awarded annually to young scientists during the annual meeting of the Ethological Society.

 New publication on effects of rising temperatures and urbanisation on birds

In this article, we synthesise our current understanding of the potential mechanisms that could affect how species respond to combined effects of urbanisation and rising temperatures, with a focus on avian taxa. Resource availability/reliability (blue) and quality (purple) differ between urban and non-urban areas and will interact with rising temperatures to influence the magnitude of biological impacts of climate change. Specifically, the urban environment could both buffer and exacerbate biological impacts of rising temperatures. Greater water availability/reliability in cities buffers thermoregulatory costs, while poorer urban water quality exacerbates warming-related increase in disease risk and pollutants reduce thermoregulatory capacity. Greater food availability and artificial light at night buffers foraging-thermoregulation trade-offs in cities, while warming-related declines in food quality (e.g., carotenoids) are exacerbated in cities. Urban nest- and roost sites are poorly thermally-buffered, hence of lower quality, than non-urban sites, while more shade is available in cities, especially in arid regions. Finally, effects of rising temperatures are likely exacerbated by air pollution and vice versa, with impacts on the redox system and immune system. The urban heat island effect (UHI) under climate change will likely continue to lead to relaxed thermoregulatory costs in temperate, continental and polar cities during winter, while exacerbating thermoregulatory costs in summer and in tropical cities compared to non-urban environments, while cities in arid zones often have a reversed heat island effect, buffering thermal costs. We discuss potential interactive effects to motivate future in-depth research on this critically important, yet overlooked, aspect of global change biology.

Publication in Global Change Biology:
Sumasgutner, P., Cunningham, S. J., Hegemann, A., Amar, A., Watson, H., Nilsson, J. F., Andersson, M. N., & Isaksson, C. (2023). Interactive effects of rising temperatures and urbanisation on birds across different climate zones: A mechanistic perspective. Global Change Biology.

 New publication on an unusual case of adoption by a pair of Superb Fairy-wrens

Adoption is a form of alloparenting in which individuals raise offspring other than their own. In this paper, we describe an unusual case of adoption by a pair of Superb Fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus) at Cleland Conservation Park, South Australia, in December 2020. Despite already raising three fledglings of their own, the breeding pair adopted an additional male fledgling from a neighbouring territory. The adoptee, named GOOx (Green Orange Orange Alu), was regularly fed by his adoptive parents and remained in his new territory for at least seven months. Although adoption may have an adaptive function in some birds, including in cooperatively breeding species, this instance may simply be a case of reproductive error, in which parents were unable to distinguish between related and unrelated juveniles.

Publication in Australian Field Ornithology:
Katsis, A.C., Evans, C., Common, L.K., Colombelli-Négrel D. & Kleindorfer S. (2022). Intraspecific fledgling adoption by a pair of Superb Fairy-wrens Malurus cyaneus. Australian Field Ornithology, 40, 49-55. doi:

Picture: Lauren K. Common

Thomas Bugnyar wins "Science Book of the Year" Award 2023

Congratulations to Prof. Thomas Bugnyar. His book "Raben. Das Geheimnis ihrer erstaunlichen Intelligenz und sozialen Fähigkeiten" was awarded "Science book of the year" 2023.

 New Alumnus: Tatjana Vogel

Congratulations to Tatjana Vogel on her graduation! Tatjana has worked on the topic "Occupancy preferences and breeding ecology of secondary hole-nesting birds depending on the material of the nest boxes and on human presence", and thus completed the MSc program Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition at the University of Vienna. The thesis was supervised by PD Dr. Didone Frigerio (KLF, University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 New publication on the conservation value of raptor monitoring

For this paper, we conducted an online survey to quantify where raptor populations are actively monitored, with the aim to build a worldwide data base that will not only facilitate large-scale collaborations but also survey standardisation to make data across the globe comparable. The questionnaire was distributed in English and Spanish and was answered by 527 individual researchers collecting data in 114 countries on 322 species (58% of raptor species). The top three most-studied species were the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), and American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), whereby mainly nest occupancy surveys, behavioural observations and producivity measures are collected. Our work - once again - underlines the urgent need to prioritise understudied raptor species, especially in tropical areas and in the Global South.

Publication in Journal of Raptor Research:
McClure CJW, Vargas FH, Amar A, Concepcion CB, MacColl C, & Sumasgutner P 2022: Conservation Letter: Monitoring Raptor Populations – A Call for Increased Global Collaboration and Survey Standardization. Journal of Raptor Research 57. doi:10.3356/jrr-22-68

Graphical abstract: Chris McClure

 New publication on the diet of the Silvery Grebe

In this short note, we report anecdotal information on the diet of Podiceps occipitalis juninensis, which was obtained based on the analysis of the stomach contents of four individuals found dead in two high Andean lagoons in Ecuador. Remains of Malacrustacea crustaceans of the genus Hyalella and the Insect order Odonata, were the most abundant. In addition to feather fragments present in all the samples, that could be related to digestive processes.

Publikation in Revista Ecuatoriana De Ornitología:
García Loor, J., Espinosa, R., Alarcón, I., Luzuriaga, N., & Guevara, E. (2022). NOTAS SOBRE LA DIETA DEL ZAMBULLIDOR PLATEADO NORTEÑO Podiceps occipitalis juninensis. Revista Ecuatoriana De Ornitología, 8(2).



 New Alumnus: Stefan Werderitsch

Congratulations to Stefan on his graduation! Stefan has worked on the question "What conditions are preferred by Northern bald ibis for nest site selection as part of their breeding ecology", and thus completed the MSc program Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition at the University of Vienna. The thesis was supervised by Dr. Didone Frigerio (KLF, University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 Merry Christmas

The team of the KLF wishes Merry Christmas, relaxing holidays and all the best for the New Year!

 Congratulations to Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr on her dissertation!

Picture: Daniela Matejschek

Verena has worked on the topic "Social behaviour and movement ecology of the Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita)", and thus completed the PhD at the University of Vienna. The dissertation was supervised by Dr. Didone Frigerio and Prof. Kurt Kotrschal (both KLF, University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 KLF practicum student Katharina Tillmann published her study! Congratulations!

Picture: By Rama - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr

Maintaining the highest standards of animal care is essential to satisfy animal welfare best practice. In this study, we measure behavioural profiles in caged mice in relation to their bedding material. Mice provisioned with soiled bedding that contained scent cues from other mice rested more and displayed less abnormal behaviour compared to mice provisioned with sterile clean bedding. More generally, these findings can be used to enhance the welfare of laboratory mice.

Publication in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience:
Müller K, Lengheimer T, Kral-Pointner JB, Wojta J, Yeghiazaryan L, Krall C, Palme R, Kleindorfer S, Plasenzotti R, Pollak DD and Tillmann KE (2022) Exposure to soiled bedding reduces abnormal repetitive behaviors in mice. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 16:1062864.

 Welcome Alexander

We welcome our new master's student Alexander Ruf, who is studying Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition (Master) at the University of Vienna. For his Master's thesis Alex is investigating "the effects of early social experiences on exploration in juvenile ravens (Corvus corax)."

 New publication on immune function across an urban gradient in Black Sparrowhawks

Picture: Kervin Prayag

In this paper, we found that higher levels of urbanisation and rainfall were associated with higher haemolysis, an established assay to measure the strength of the immune system. This finding adds to our understanding of the overall success of Black Sparrowhawks in colonising cities across Southern Africa where the species profits from a high prey abundance of pigeons and doves while being largely buffered from urban stressors when nesting in urban forest patches.

Publication in Journal of Animal Ecology:
Nwaogu, C. J., Amar, A., Nebel, C., Isaksson, C., Hegemann, A., & Sumasgutner, P. (2022). Innate immune function and antioxidant capacity of nestlings of an African raptor covary with the level of urbanisation around breeding territories. Journal of Animal Ecology, 00, 1– 18.



 Welcome Nils

Nils is studying Conservation and Landscape Planning at the Technical University of Munich and is currently doing an internship at the KLF. Thereby he gains practical experience in catching and tagging ravens and supports the researchers in different projects.

 New Alumnus: Anna Fabbri

Congratulations to Anna Fabbri on her graduation! Anna has worked on the topic "Ontogeny of individual variation in food calling in the common raven", and thus completed the MSc program Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition at the University of Vienna. The thesis was supervised by Prof. Sonia Kleindorfer (KLF, University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 Welcome Johanna!

Johanna studies "Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation" at the University of Greifswald in Germany and is currently at the KLF to collect data for her master thesis on affiliative interactions in common ravens.

 Welcome Anja!

Anja is doing a Voluntary Environmental Year at the KLF (Youth Environmental Platform JUMP). The activities include assistance in knowledge transfer and public relations as well as support in animal care. Parallel to the volunteer work, Anja completes the accompanying "FUJ training course".



 Welcome Sophie!

Sophie is studying Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition (Master) at the University of Vienna. For her Master´s thesis she is working with the greylag geese.

 New publication on shifts in reproductive behaviour of the invasive bird parasite Philornis downsi

The avian vampire fly is a parasite that was accidentally introduced to the Galápagos Islands. In this study, Common et al. use genomic techniques to reveal new patterns of mating behaviour. Compared to one decade ago, the results show that females mate with fewer males, individual females oviposit fewer offspring per nest, but more unique females oviposit per nest. In addition to informing conservation management, these findings provide a rare insight into invasion biology in real time.

Publication in Biological Invasions:
Common,LK, Kleindorfer S, Colombelli-Négrel D, Dudaniec, RY (2022). Genetics reveals shifts in reproductive behaviour of the invasive bird parasite Philornis downsi collected from Darwin’s finch nests. Biological Invasions

Picture: B. Sinclair

Picture: B. Sinclair

 Congratulations to Mario Gallego-Abenza on his dissertation!

Mario has worked on the topic: "Social cognition and fission-fusion dynamics in non-breeder Common ravens, Corvus corax", and thus completed the PhD at the University of Vienna. The dissertation was supervised by Prof. Thomas Bugnyar.

We wish you all the best for the future!

 New publication out: In the Australian superb fairywren exploratory individuals defend their territory more strongly against intruders

In the Australian superb fairywren, the male and female defend a territory across many years. In this study we show that birds with extreme exploration phenotypes defended their territory more strongly against conspecific intruders.  Especially pairs with mismatching exploration phenotypes -- that is, where the male was either more or less exploratory and the female was either less or more exploratory respectively - responded strongest to intruders. Our results shed light on the role of personality in wild contexts, and how combinations of personality types may confer a fitness benefit.

Publication in Animal Behaviour:
Colombelli-Négrel D, Katsis AC, Kleindorfer S (2022).  Superb fairy-wrens with extreme exploration phenotypes respond more strongly to simulated territory intrusions. Animal Behaviour 193, 101-111.

 New publication on personality in animals

Picture: Andrew Katsis

Animals have personality - some are shy and some are bold, some are more and others less aggressive, for example. In this study in the Australian Superb Fairywren, we carried out an experiment and measured the effect of personality on responses to playback of a predator. More aggressive birds had a stronger response and approached the predator sound more closely. This study supports the view that personality in animals can predict their behaviour during threatening situations in the wild, and therefore can be a target of selection.

Publication in PeerJ:
Bilby, J., Colombelli-Négrel, D., Katsis, A.C. and Kleindorfer, S., 2022. When aggressiveness could be too risky: linking personality traits and predator response in superb fairy-wrens. PeerJ10, p.e14011.

 Book chapter published on the impact of citizen science on conceptual learning and socio-emotional development

Together with the colleagues Katharina Hirschenhauser and Brigitte Neuböck-Hubinger from the Pädagogische Hochschule Oberösterreich Didone Frigerio wrote the book chapter "Science Education and Beyond: Citizen Science in Primary School Potentially Affects Conceptual Learning and Socio-emotional Development". It was shown, among other results, that the participation of primary school children in a Citizen Science project about greylag geese not only has an impact on factual learning but also on impulsive behaviour control.

Publication in Citizen Science - Methods, Approaches and New Perspectives:
Hirschenhauser, K., Frigerio, D., Neuböck-Hubinger, B. (2022). Science Education and Beyond: Citizen Science in Primary School Potentially Affects Conceptual Learning and Socio-emotional Development. DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.107532

 New Alumnus: Tanguy Menthonnex

Congratulations to Tanguy Menthonnex on his graduation! Tanguy has worked on the topic: "From individual to population: Considerations on the long-term development of a managed, free-flying colony of endangered Northern Bald Ibis", and thus completed the MSc program Behavioural Ecology and Wildlife Management at the Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté. The thesis was supervised by Dr. Didone Frigerio (KLF, University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 New Alumnus: Antonia Charlotte Huge

Congratulations to Antonia Huge on her graduation! Antonia has worked on the topic: "Male age is related to the heterospecific soundscape of the breeding territory in two Darwin’s finch species", and thus completed the MSc program Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition at the University of Vienna. The thesis was supervised by Prof. Sonia Kleindorfer (KLF, University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 Welcome Rebekka and Egon

We would like to welcome two new master's students at the KLF. Rebekka studies “Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Management” at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU). After spending two monitoring seasons in the field observing Golden Eagles, she now wants to find out more about the breeding performance of this species. In her master’s thesis she will be working on long-term breeding data in the Alps, to understand their productivity in relation to weather and climate.

Egon studies "Conservation Biology and Biodiversity Management" at the University of Vienna. For his master's thesis he will be working on the long-term survival data of colour-ringed ravens in the Alps, to understand seasonal and cohort-specific survival rates.



 New paper published on exploitation of anthropogenic food sources by common ravens

A new study from the Corvid-lab, with lead author Varalika Jain, shows how 81 GPS-tagged ravens in the Alps exploit human-provided food sources. They found that human-provided food sources were important for all the tagged individuals, with differences in movement and resource use based on age (i.e., juvenile versus adult), origin (i.e., wild-caught versus captive-bred-released), and seasonality. Their results highlight how human-provided food sources affect foraging strategies among non-breeding ravens and emphasize the potential of these food sources in shaping movement and resource-use.

Publication in Movement Ecology:
Jain, V., Bugnyar, T., Cunningham, S.J. et al. The spatial and temporal exploitation of anthropogenic food sources by common ravens (Corvus corax) in the Alps. Mov Ecol 10, 35 (2022).

Picture: Benedikt Heger

Picture: Benedikt Heger

 Biologicum Almtal and Junior Biologicum

Biologicum Almtal (September 29 - October 1)

As a scientific symposium, the Biologicum Almtal deals with the central topics of modern biology, with a view to the human being. In addition to biology, the lecturers come from different disciplines, such as medicine, veterinary medicine and economics. This is to ensure that the respective annual topic can be viewed from different angles. The aim of the event is to communicate scientific topics in an understandable way. Participation in the Biologicum requires curiosity and the willingness to learn something new.

This year we are dealing with one of the key questions of our time, which has to do with human ambivalence: How can people sometimes be so smart and yet often make such bad decisions? Research has documented countless examples of impressively flexible, near-optimal intelligence in humans and animals, while also uncovering numerous areas of irrational, suboptimal, and inflexible decision making.

During Biologicum 2022, we will discuss and reflect on the limits and potential of sustainable thinking and action. The topic will be looked at from several angles, both from the biological or natural science side, as well as from the economic side, we look at the processes in the brain as well as large data sets from worldwide observations.

Junior Biologicum (Sept. 29)

The Junior Biologicum is designed for interested high school students and their teachers. This year's event will take place on Thursday, September 29, on the topic of "Sustainable thinking and acting - a collective endeavor" at the Pfarrhof in Grünau. The topic will be examined from different perspectives in short keynote speeches. In the subsequent Science Café, discussions can be held with the speakers in an informal atmosphere.Participation is free of charge. Registration required.

Biologicum Almtal and Junior Biologicum will take place under the scientific direction of Sonia Kleindorfer and Didone Frigerio, the general organization will be done by staff members of the Konrad Lorenz Research Center in cooperation with the International Academy Traunkirchen.

We look forward to a lively exchange in the beautiful, early autumn Almtal in presence, with exciting lectures and discussions, eventful excursions, a pub quiz as an entertaining evening program and the usual delicious culinary accompaniment.

Further information and registration:

Symposium language:


 We would like to introduce our new PostDoc: Dr. Andrew Katsis!

We warmly welcome Andrew and look forward to working with him!

Dr. Andrew Katsis is a behavioural ecologist with an interest in avian personality, vocal learning, and prenatal communication. Spending his childhood on an emu farm in Australia, he quickly developed a passion for birds and their behavioural eccentricities. For his PhD research at Deakin University, Andrew studied how the prenatal sound environment can influence behaviour in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia castanotis), a small Australian songbird. He recently completed his first postdoc at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, during which he explored the ontogeny and fitness consequences of personality differences in superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus) and Darwin’s finches (subfamily Geospizinae). In addition to his research, Andrew is also a keen science communicator and has contributed to magazines, online news, radio, and television: in 2018, he shared his research on the Netflix popular science series Bill Nye Saves the World.

At the Konrad Lorenz Research Center, Andrew will continue his research on avian personality traits in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Sonia Kleindorfer. For this work, he will draw on the center’s established population of greylag geese and a long-running research project in the Galápagos Islands.

 New Alumnus: Tom Nilles

Congratulations to Tom Nilles on his graduation! Tom has worked on the topic: "Carotenoid levels in nestlings of urban Eurasian kestrels (Falco tinnunculus)", and thus completed the MSc program Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Management at the BOKU. The thesis was supervised by Swen Renner (NHM) and Petra Sumasgutner (KLF, University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 New paper published on space use and site fidelity in the endangered Northern Bald Ibis

Picture: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr and colleagues investigated space use and site fidelity in the endangered Northern Bald Ibis. Northern Bald Ibis consistently showed high site fidelity, with adults using a larger area during the breeding season than outside the breeding season. Furthermore, direct routes over mountainous areas were avoided when moving between different areas.

Publication in Bird Conservation International:
Puehringer-Sturmayr, V., Krejci, J., Schuster, R., Kleindorfer, S., Kotrschal, K., Frigerio, D., & Loretto, M. (2022). Space use and site fidelity in the endangered Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita: Effects of age, season, and sex. Bird Conservation International, 1-13.



 One-year anniversary of the new KLF building

In June 2022, we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the new KLF building. We share the commemorative publication Festschrift that marked the event. Thank you to all supporters, funding agencies, and many partners who turned the idea of a new building into a reality. Now, our research into the wild behaviour and cognitive capacity of animals continues in a modern facility. We are grateful!

Download Festschrift

 New Alumnus: Eva-Maria Körmer

Congratulations to Eva-Maria Körmer on her graduation! Eva-Maria has worked on "Call structure of contact calls in Greylag geese", supervised by Sonia Kleindorfer (KLF, University of Vienna) and Mauricio Nicolas Adreani.

We wish you all the best for the future!

 Farewell, Steffi!

Picture: Benedikt Heger

Stefanie has been doing a voluntary environmental year at the KLF since October 2021. She has assisted with knowledge transfer and supported us with public relations as well as the care of the animals. Dear Steffi, we wish you all the best for the future!

 New Alumnus: Veronika Weinhäupl

Congratulations to Veronika Weinhäupl on her graduation! Veronika has worked on "Departure call structure in Greylag geese", supervised by Sonia Kleindorfer (KLF, University of Vienna) and Nico Adreani.

We wish you all the best for the future!

 Congratulations Dr. Petra Sumasgutner on winning the prestigious START award!

Petra is pioneering research into raptor ecology and conservation leading an international collaborative team. Her ground-breaking research addresses raptor, owl and raven foraging behaviour in the context of human-wildlife conflict. Her research outcomes will help save species and restore ecosystems. Congratulations on this tremendous achievement, and good luck for your important research.

FWF/Anja Koppitsch/Daniel Novotny

FWF/Anja Koppitsch/Daniel Novotny

 New alumnus: Lilly Felker

Congratulations to our master student, Lilly Felker, for passing her master's exam at the University of Vienna.
Topic of her Master thesis: Flock composition and field choice of Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus)

We wish you all the best for the future!

 New publication on the effects of urbanization and climate change on red-winged starlings in Cape Town

This paper is the first scientific output from a new research line on interactive effects of urbanization and climate change established with the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, specifically the Hot Birds Research Project, where we take advantage of an individually color-ringed population of red-winged starlings on campus of the University of Cape Town. The Birds are habituated to close human observations and hop on a scale against a small food reward allowing us to weigh them regularly and to record daily body mass changes. In this paper, we show that the vast abundance of anthropogenic food in cities might buffer urban birds from the negative effects of elevated temperatures - despite short-term fluctuations of junk food availability that are linked to the weekly circle of human activity (the so-called weekend effect).

Publication in Landscape and Urban Planning:
Stofberg, M., Amar, A., Sumasgutner, P., Cunningham, S.J. (2022). Staying cool and eating junk: Influence of heat dissipation and anthropogenic food on foraging and body condition in an urban passerine. Landscape and Urban Planning 226.

The article can be accessed for 50 days

Graphical abstract: Miqkayla Stofberg

 New publication on Darwin's finches

This publication reports on rapid ecological changes, indirectly caused by an introduced parasite. When larvae of the avian vampire fly feed on the beak of Darwin's finches, they can create beak deformations. Sonia Kleindorfer and colleagues measured the foraging behaviour of Darwin's finches. In birds with normal beak size, individuals from different species occupied different and specialised foraging niches. But when birds had malformed beaks from early life parasitism, they all converged on the same foraging niche. In this way, early life parasitism can have ecological consequences measured years later. Efforts are strong underway to maintain and restore the endemic food webs of the Galapagos Islands.

Publication in Functional Ecology:
Kleindorfer,S., Colombelli-Négrel, D., Common, L.K., O'Connor, J.A., Peters, K.J., Katsis, A.C., Dudaniec, R.Y., Sulloway, F.J., Adreani, N.M. (2022). Functional traits and foraging behaviour: Avian vampire fly larvae change the beak and fitness of their Darwin's finch hosts. Functional Ecology, 00, 1–12.

 The Young Investigator Award goes to Petra Sumasgutner

Picture: Daniela Matejshek

Congratulations to Petra Sumasgutner - Faculty Award Winner of the Faculty of Life Sciences. The Young Investigator Award is an initiative of the Faculty of Life Sciences of the University of Vienna designed to honour young postdoctoral scientists publishing in the top journals of their field.
Petra: "I am planning to use the award to fund my research on urban raptors (Turmfalkenprojekt Wien) and to attend the PAOC ( where I will deliver my very first invited plenary talk on "Raptors in a changing world: Understanding the response of predators to increasing urbanization" at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe."

 New publication on the occurrence of asymmetry in the complex nest of Rufous hornero

Illustration: Alena Lemazina

Nico Adreani and colleagues used a citizen-science approach to quantify the occurrence of asymmetry in the complex nest of a bird, the rufous hornero (Furnarius rufus). Nest asymmetry was individually repeatable and was not explained by environmental factors, raising many questions about the causes and consequences of nest asymmetry in animal behaviour.

Publication in Current Biology:
Adreani, N.M., Valcu, M., Citizen Scientists, Mentesana, L. (2022). Asymmetric architecture is non-random and repeatable in a bird's nest. Current Biology 32(9): 412-413.

 New Alumnus: Benedikt Heger

Congratulations to Benedikt Heger on his graduation! Benedikt has worked on "Different reactions of greylag geese to their own mirror images, as well as to life-size photographs of their conspecifics", and thus completed the MSc program Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Management at the BOKU. The thesis was supervised by Sonia Kleindorfer (KLF, University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 New Publication on the elevational range expansion of the Drab Water Tyrant

New study by PhD student Jefferson Garcia Loor shows range expansion in the Drab Water Tyrant (Ochthornis littoralis) from lower Amazonia to the Andean foothills. The new record is also from a previously unknown habitat for the species.

Publication in Check List - the journal of biodiversity data:
García-Loor J (2022) Elevational range extension of Drab Water Tyrant, Ochthornis littoralis (Pelzeln, 1868) (Passeriformes, Tyrannidae). Check List 18(3): 451-453.

 Welcome Viktoria

Viktoria studies Human-Animal Interactions at the Vetmeduni in Vienna. For her master thesis she investigates the prosociality in goats in the Cumberland Wildpark Grünau.



 Welcome Alena, Caelan, Leon and Matt

Picture: Stefanie Filz

The four Australians are supporting the research on greylag geese at the KLF as volunteers during the next months. One of their tasks is to record the calls of the hand-raised goslings.

 Happy Easter!

Picture: J. Hemetsberger

Happy Easter and happy holidays!

 Welcome Barbara and Johanna

Barbara, student of "Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Management" at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) and Johanna who studies "Molecular microbiology, microbial ecology and immunology" at the University of Vienna are hand-rearing graylag geese at the KLF and then will do their master's theses on i) the social integration of the hand-reared goslings and ii) the composition of gut microbiome in greylag geese from hatching to fledging.

 Welcome Tanguy and Stefan

For their master's thesis Tanguy and Stefan are investigating what makes birds - namely the Northern bald Ibis pick up plastic and other human waste as material for their nest, and its potential consequences for the parents and offspring.

Tanguy is studying Behavioural Ecology applied to Wildlife Management at the University of Bourgogne Franche-Comté, in France. Stefan is a student at the University of Vienna after completing his bachelor's degree in Salzburg.

 New publication: How can volunteers be involved in research projects while maintaining accurate data?

We learned that good communication and detailed training sessions can help citizen scientists collect accurate data that can be used scientifically and shared with the scientific community. We think that both volunteers and scientists will benefit from this collaboration and, most importantly, that they will all have fun doing it!

Publication in "Frontiers for Young Minds":
Gegendorfer G, Rittenschober J, Vesely H and Frigerio D (2022) Volunteering In Monitoring Bird Behavior: Accuracy Matters!. Front. Young Minds. 10:596181.

 New paper on Avian diversity and abundance across years on Viti Levu

PhD student Alivereti Naikatini and colleagues made the important observation that the stability and diversity of woodland forest birds is comparable across forest types on Fiji, including primary, secondary and plantations. There is conservation benefit to maintaining forests including regrowth and managed forests to sustain woodland birds.

Publication in "Pacific Conservation Biology":
Naikatini AN, Keppel G, Brodie G, Kleindorfer S (2022). Avian diversity and abundance across years: consistent patterns in forests but not grasslands on Viti Levu, Fiji. Pacific Conservation Biology,



 Welcome Lennart

Lennart is a student at the Hochschule Bremen and recently studied abroad at the University of South Bohemia in Czech Republic. For his bachelor thesis Lennart will test the degree of interspecific comprehension of free-flying common ravens at the Cumberland Wildpark Grünau by analysing their response to alarm calls of different corvid species. This will take place during the next three months in form of playbacks during the boar feeding, when ravens are present.

 New video about the conservation of biodiversity and our research on the northern bald ibis

For her dissertation, Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr investigated the social interactions and habitat selection of the highly endangered northern bald ibis. Last fall and winter a film team accompanied Verena, got to know the bald ibis and discussed with her the importance of conserving biodiversity.


 New paper published about the birds of Fiji

Fiji endemic bird behaviour comes under study for almost the first time in ~100 years since the Whitney South Sea Expedition with Ernst Mayr in 1929! Together with Naikatini and colleagues, Kleindorfer documented vertical niche stratification in Fiji’s woodland birds. The study adds valuable information on the role of animal behaviour such as foraging behaviour for forest community structure. Understanding drivers of biodiversity is essential information to conserve woodland birds.

Publication in "Diversity":
Naikatini, A.N., Keppel, G., Brodie, G., Kleindorfer, S., 2022. Interspecific Competition and Vertical Niche Partitioning in Fiji’s Forest Birds. Diversity.

 New publication on vocal recognition in greylag geese

In this study Marie Guggenberger and colleagues uncover vocal recognition in one of the most ancient bird lineages, the greylag geese (Anser anser). We did so in the wild by combining a descriptive and experimental approach. Greylag geese were capable of recognising vocalisations from individuals of different social relevance.

Publication in "Animl Behaviour":
Guggenberger, M., Adreani, N.M., Foerster, K., Kleindorfer, S. (2022) Vocal recognition of distance calls in a group-living basal bird: the greylag goose, Anser anser. Animal Behaviour.



 Welcome Tatjana

For her master's thesis Tatjana will investigate occupancy preferences and breeding success of hole-nesting small birds depending on the material of the nest boxes and depending on different forest types (with/without the presence of humans) in the area in and around the Cumberland Wildpark.

 Congratulations for winning the 2021 Purcell Memorial Prize of Science

Carina Nebel, PhD student of Petra Sumasgutner and Arjun Amar, has won the Purcell Memorial Prize of Science for her PhD on the Colour polymorphism of Black Sparrowhawks - this is an award of the Faculty of Science in South Africa, and is given once a year for the best PhD thesis in the field of Biological Sciences. Congratulations!

 Welcome Sophie

Picture: Stefanie Filz

Sophie is studying Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition (Master) at the University of Vienna. As part of an internship at the KLF, she is investigating social structure as well as dominance behavior in greylag geese.

 Welcome Salomé

Salomé is a student of Evolutionary Biology at the Faculté des sciences et technologies - Université de Lille. Over the next six months, she will investigate the factors that affect the feeding strategies of free-flying ravens, primarily by observing how they behave when they are fed each morning along with wild boars in the Cumberland Wildpark Grünau.

 New Poster: Individual variation of food associated calls in the raven

For the VDS CoBeNe PhD Academy, held February 2-4, master's student Anna Fabbri contributed a poster  on "Ontogeny of individual variation in food calling in the common raven".

Fabbri, A.L., Bernatovic, G., Bugnyar, T., Kleindorfer, S. (2022): Ontogeny of individual variation in food calling in the common raven. Poster Contribution.

 Voluntary Environmental Year at the Konrad Lorenz Research Center (KLF)!

Also this year there is the possibility to do a Voluntary Environmental Year at the KLF (Youth Environmental Platform JUMP). The activities include assistance in knowledge transfer and public relations as well as support in animal care.
Parallel to the volunteer work, the participants complete the accompanying "FUJ training course". With the completion of the course, the participants receive 8 ECTS, which can be credited at the University of Agricultural and Environmental Education.




Picture: Archiv KLF

Picture: Benedikt Heger

Picture: Archiv KLF

 Welcome Tom

Tom studies wildlife ecology and wildlife management at the BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna. As part of his internship at the KLF, he is investigating the "riding" of ravens on wild boars at the Cumberland Wildpark Grünau.

 Conference Contribution at the ARRCN Symposium

Petra Sumasgutner and colleagues will speak at the ARRCN Symposium (Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network) on Thursday, January 20 at 08:00 to present GARRN - the Global Anthropause Raptor Research Network. Registration is still possible, no registration fees.

 Merry Christmas!

We wish you all Merry Christmas, wonderful holidays and all the best for 2022!

 Welcome Gabriela

We welcome our new master student Gabriela. Gabriela is investigating how parental care in ravens is associated with feeding strategies and feeding success at a common feeding place outside of the family.

 Welcome Stefanie and Lilly

Stefanie is collecting behavioral data on free-living crows at Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn using the Citizen Science  App KraMobil and is studying their group dynamics as a function of available resources. The title of her master thesis is "Effects of resource availability and distribution on grouping dynamics and foraging strategies in an urban population of crows".

For her master’s thesis Lilly is studying the field choice of Lesser White-fronted Goose, a threatened species, in comparison to other goose species occurring in the same area. In addition, she is having a look on the occurrence of interspecific flocks in connection with the field characteristics and the demonstrated behaviour.
This study is supported by Dr. Niklas Liljebäck (“Projekt Fjällgås”) and Dr. Helmut Kruckenberg (Institute for Wetlands and Waterbird Research e.V., Germany).

 New Publication on the influence of the female in-nest attendance on the number of ectoparasites in Darwin's finch species

Offspring of the 17 Darwin’s finch species are being eaten alive by larvae of an accidentally introduced parasitic fly. First observed in Darwin’s finch nests in 1997, the avian vampire fly feeds on the blood and tissue of developing birds, killing most and causing deformation in survivors. In this study, we focus on parental care and show that adult female finches can reduce chances that avian vampire flies can enter the nest. High quality females that can sustain longer in-nest parental care with less feeding opportunity for themselves, paired with males that increase feeding to the offspring, have better chances to produce offspring in a vampire-fly dominated environment.

Publication in "Proceedings of the Royal Society B":
Kleindorfer S, Common LK, O’Connor JA, Garcia-Loor J, Katsis AC, Dudaniec RY, Colombelli-Négrel D, Adreani NM (2021). Female in-nest attendance predicts the number of ectoparasites in Darwin’s finch species. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

 New Publication on sex role similarity in male and female song

A new publication by Karan Odom with Sonia Kleindorfer and colleagues explores sex role similarity in male and female song. Historically, bird song complexity was thought to evolve primarily through sexual selection on males; yet, in many species, both sexes sing and selection pressure on both sexes may be broader. This study across 15 populations of nine fairy-wren species reveals that male and female songs were more similar when parental care was more similar. Our understanding of how and why female birds sing is a neglected area of animal behaviour research, and this study is helping to fill this gap in knowledge.

Publication in Ecology and Evolution:
Odom, K.J., Cain, K.E., Hall, M.L., Langmore, N.E., Mulder, R.A., Kleindorfer, S., Karubian, J., Brouwer, L., Enbody, E.D., Jones, J.A. and Dowling, J.L. (2021). Sex role similarity and sexual selection predict male and female song elaboration and dimorphism in fairy‐wrens. Ecology and Evolution.

 Congratulations on the PeerJ-Award

Congratulations to Varalika Jain for winning the best student transmission at the 7th Bio-Logging Symposium held online in October 2021.

In this blog post, she writes about her research and academic career so far:

 New publication on on causes of nest mortality in the critically endangered Medium Tree Finch

Drawing: Lauren K. Common

KLF researchers Sonia Kleindorfer and Petra Sumasgutner, with PhD student Lauren Common, published their findings on causes of nest mortality in the critically endangered Medium Tree Finch. As shown in this study, ~90% of chick mortality is caused by introduced parasites and predators. The new publication analyses long-term data and proves baseline data against which to compare impacts of the planned eradication of introduced species and rewilding of locally extinct species on Floreana Island. Watch this space over the next years!

Publication in Birds MDPI:
Kleindorfer, S., Common, L.K., Sumasgutner, P. (2021). Nesting Success and Nesting Height in the Critically Endangered Medium Tree Finch (Camarhynchus pauper). Birds MDPI.

 Welcome Toni

For her master's thesis, Toni is studying Darwin's finches in Galapagos. She is investigating whether male age in Galapagos finches is related to the soundscape composition at the nesting territory. For this purpose, she analyzes videos of nests recorded in Galapagos in 2020. Starting in January, she will collect more data in the field. We wish all the best for the upcoming field season.

 New publication on the the avian vampire fly

In the publication “Temporal and spatial variation in sex‑specific abundance of the avian vampire fly (Philornis downsi)” published in Parasitology Research, Lauren Common and colleagues report on differences in male and female avian vampire fly occurrence on Floreana Island, Galapagos. The new information will be used to develop control measures for this deadly invasive parasite that is the biggest threat to the survival of all Galapagos land birds. Kleindorfer and team have been studying the avian vampire fly on the Galapagos since 2000 and PhD student Lauren Common expanded key knowledge that can be used to control the fly’s spatial distribution.

Publication in Parasitology Research:
Common, L.K., Sumasgutner, P., Sumasgutner, S.C., Colombelli-Negrel, D., Dudaniec, R.Y., Kleindorfer, S. (2021). Temporal and spatial variation in sex‑specific abundance of the avian vampire fly (Philornis downsi). Parasitology Research.

 New alumnus: Kathrin Arbeithuber

Congratulations to our master student, Kathrin Arbeithuber, for passing her master's exam at the University of Vienna.

Topic of her Master thesis: Disentangling the effects of metabolism on activity levels and boldness: A study of between-individual differences in heart rate and behaviour from embryo to nestling in Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita)

We wish you all the best for the future!

 Welcome Silvia!

We welcome our new PhD student Silvia Damini! Silvia is broadly interested in animal behaviour and cognition. For her PhD she will be studying ravens´ interspecific interactions with wolves and wild boars in the foraging context.

 Talk by Martin Rössler at the KLF

A talk by ornithologist Martin Rössler will be held on Monday Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. at Konrad Lorenz Research Center in Grünau/Almtal. He will report on his research on the problem of glass surfaces for birds using experimental test tunnels. Martin Rössler studied landscape ecology and landscape design at BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna and founded the Verein Auring: Biological Station Hohenau-Ringelsdorf.

The lecture will be held in German.

We would like to invite interested visitors to attend this talk in presence (2.5-G proof required, FFP2 mask mandatory) or online. Limited number of participants. Registration absolutely necessary under:

 New Publication about the Global Raptor Impact Network GRIN

In this paper, the Global Raptor Impact Network (GRIN), a tool to enhance collaboration and conservation impact of the raptor research community is introduced and an overview of the history and current state of GRIN, including plans for expansion, and outline the recently launched collaboration with the Global Anthropause Raptor Research Network (GARRN) is provided. Within these networks, population impacts of human-raptor interactions were investigated, information was provided about conservation efforts and ultimately helped safeguard raptor populations in the Anthropocene.

Publication in Journal of Raptor Research:
McClure, Christopher J. W., David L. Anderson, Ralph Buij, Leah Dunn, Michael T. Henderson, Jennifer McCabe, Brian W. Rolek, Sarah E. Schulwitz, D. Paul Spurling, F. Hernan Vargas, Munir Z. Virani, Richard T. Watson, Diego Méndez, Cesar Marquez Reyes, Everton B. P. Miranda, Lyle Glowka, Sofi Hinchliffe, Bryce W. Robinson, James R. Belthoff, Julie A. Heath, André Botha, Robert A. G. Davies, Andrew P. Rayner, Simon R. Trice, Laurie Goodrich, Jean-François Therrien, M. David Oleyar, Steven J. Slater, Evan R. Buechley, Sandesh Gurung, Tulsi R. Subedi, Petra Sumasgutner, Luke J. Sutton, Franziska Loercher, W. Louis Phipps, and José Tavares2021 Commentary: The Past, Present, and Future of the Global Raptor Impact Network. 

Road-kill is a common cause of mortality for typical road-side raptors, such as buzzards, kestrels and barn owls

Picture: Ralph Buij

Vultures and other scavengers are amongst the most threatened raptor species

Picture: Evan Buechley

 Welcome Jefferson

Picture: Benedikt Heger

Jefferson got his degree in Biology in Ecuador and had been working in different projects mainly in the Amazon region and Galápagos. He is interested in Animal Behavior and Evolution. His PhD Project will be focused on how the behave of finches can change against the absence of the predator. In Grünau, he will also work on projects with greylag geese.

 New publication on mechanisms and impact of urbanisation on wildlife

Picture: Franz Kerschbaum

Picture: Turmfalkenprojekt Wien

Globally, more people live in urban areas than in rural ones. This rapid urbanisation poses challenges for sustainable development and public health. But the picture looks even grimmer for animals. Urbanisation is a new selective force that is changing the composition of animal communities tremendously, but there is still a clear research gap in understanding the mechanisms and impact of urbanisation on wildlife. Here we used a biomarker approach - an indirect indicator of vigour or performance, to infer to what we commonly refer to as health - to unravel how urban kestrels respond to the exposure to urban stressors.

Publication in The Science of Nature:
Wemer, L., Hegemann, A., Isaksson, C., Nebel, C., Kleindorfer, S., Gamauf, A., . . . Sumasgutner, P. (2021). Reduced ectoparasite load, body mass and blood haemolysis in Eurasian kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) along an urban–rural gradient. The Science of Nature.



 Welcome Awani!

Awani is broadly interested in studying the evolution of social behaviour and cognition. For her PhD, she will be focussing on the use of social information and strategies for social interactions by free-flying ravens.

 New Publication about red-winged starlings

Urban birds commonly exploit anthropogenic food, but the influence of short-term pulses in food availability, linked to human activity cycles (weekday/weekend), is largely unknown. In this issue, Catto and colleagues found that adult red-winged starlings had greater daily mass gain on weekdays, while nestlings were smaller and lighter if parents primarily fed junk food. The quantity of human food available may therefore benefit adult survival, while its lower quality imposes a cost to nestling growth.

Publication in Oecologia:
Catto, S., Sumasgutner, P., Amar, A., Thomson, R. L., & Cunningham, S. J. (2021). Pulses of anthropogenic food availability appear to benefit parents, but compromise nestling growth in urban red-winged starlings.

Picture: © Susie Cunningham

Picture: © Susie Cunningham

 Welcome Paula and Benedikt

Biology student Paula Pröll from the University of Vienna is currently helping with long-term monitoring of greylag geese. She is also assisting other Master and PhD students with their projects.

Benedikt is a master student of wildlife ecology and wildlife management at BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna. As part of his master's thesis, he is studying the different reactions of greylag geese to their own mirror images, as well as to life-size photographs of their conspecifics.



 New Publication on how songbirds learn vocalizations

New paper published by Diane Colombelli-Négrel, Sonia Kleindorfer, Nico Adreani and colleagues on Prenatal auditory learning in avian vocal learners and non-learners.

Publication in "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences":

Colombelli-Négrel, D., Hauber, M.E., Evans, C., Katsis, A.C., Brouwer, L., Adreani, N.M. and Kleindorfer, S. (2021) Prenatal auditory learning in avian vocal learners and non-learner. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

 Biologicum Almtal and Junior Biologicum 2021: Nature and Science through the ages

The Biologicum Almtal is a symposium for interested people. No previous knowledge is necessary. The Junior Biologicum is for high school students. The lectures are in German. In this year's Biologicum Almtal and Junior Biologicum we will focus on "Nature and Science through the ages". Different perspectives will be used to illuminate how changes can be measured, how they have a long-term effect and which collective behavioral changes can lead to a sustainable approach to nature. Ten speakers will look at the changes, the transformation in their own scientific disciplines and will be available for discussion and exchange.

Biologicum Almtal and Junior Biologicum will take place under the scientific direction of Sonia Kleindorfer and Didone Frigerio, the general organization will be done by staff members of the Konrad Lorenz Research Center in cooperation with the International Academy Traunkirchen. We welcome the cooperation with a regional partner institution that encourages people in their enthusiasm and talent for natural sciences and technical development and supports the encounter with science. After an online event last year, this year we are looking forward to a lively exchange in the beautiful Almtal valley in early autumn, with exciting lectures and discussions, interesting excursions, a cabaret as an entertaining evening program and the usual delicious culinary accompaniment.




 New Publication on Greylag Geese

Picture: Josef Hemetsberger

Didone Frigerio, Petra Sumasgutner and colleagues showed associations between climate, breeding phenology, and reproductive output in greylag geese. "With warmer winters, more females were able to breed. Overall, more young fledged," Didone Frigerio said.

Publication in Scientific Reports:

The publication "Citizen Science - Doing Research with Schools. Basics, recommendations & practical tips for joint projects" of the OeAD - Center for Citizen Science has been published. Didone Frigerio contributed as an author to two of the seven chapters.

Download (in German)

 New publication on Black Sparrowhawks

Carina Nebel, Petra Sumasgutner and colleagues revisited the mode of colour morph inheritance in the Black Sparrowhawk. By constructing a multigenerational pedigree, they showed that the dark allele is actually genetically dominant over the light allele. This is despite the fact that light morph bird are more abundant across the African continent.

Figure 1) Within-morph variability expressed in dark morph black sparrowhawk. 

Figure 2) Within-morph variability expressed in light morph black sparrowhawk. (Top) plumage variability on the throat, breast and belly, (bottom) plumage variability on the underwing coverts. Variability is expressed as varying amount of black and white feathers, i.e. as a white throat or white speckles on the breast.

Publication in Journal of Zoology:
Nebel, C., Sumasgutner, P., Rodseth, E., Ingle, R. A., Childs, D. Z., Curtis-Scott, O., and Amar, A. (2021) Multigenerational pedigree analysis of wild individually marked black sparrowhawks suggests that dark plumage coloration is a dominant autosomal trait. Journal of Zoology.

 Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on wildlife

Petra Sumasgutner and The Red-winged Starling Team from Cape Town are part of the PAN-Environment Working Group who aim to disentangle positive and negative effects of humans on our wilderness. The research opportunity emerging from the tragic circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that humans are not only a threat but also important custodians of species and ecosystems. Specifically in the starling case study, the researcher found that adult birds had consistently lower body masses during lockdowns than in preceding years. Birds were 4.1 +/- 1 g lighter between precovid and covid, which is approx. 3% of body mass.

Publication in "Biological Conservation":

Bates, A. E., Primack, R. B., PAN-Environment Working Group, Duarte C. M. (2021) Global COVID-19 lockdown highlights humans as both threats and custodians of the environment. Biological Conservation, 109175

 Ringing urban kestrels

The collaboration between the Vienna firefighters and the Kestrel Project Vienna started in 2010 and has become a special day for both, the firefighters and the researchers. Many of the nest sites in inner city districts are only accessible via the turntable ladder and contribute therefore significantly to our sample size. This year, the project is carried by MSc student Tom Nilles and Dr Manuela Merling de Chapa who gained ample of urban raptor experience when working on goshawks, and who is helping us with her expertise in sampling, measuring and ringing urban kestrels. Many thanks to the team!

 Welcome Veronika & Eva-Maria!

We welcome our new master students Veronika Weinhäupl and Eva-Maria Körmer. Both are from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. Veronika investigates the departure call structure in Greylag geese, while Eva investigates the call structure of contact calls in Greylag geese.

 New publication on Black Sparrowhawks

Carina Nebel, Petra Sumasgutner and colleagues aimed to unravel mechanistic pathways by which both, the light and the dark morph of the Black Sparrowhawk can maintain within the same population in stable morph ratios. This research has shown that mixed-morph pairs (consisting of a light and dark morph parent) have higher productivity and that their offspring has higher survival rates. Here the authors disentangle a potential trade-off between body mass and immune function which might explain how skinnier chicks end up being stronger fledglings.

Publication in "Scientific Reports":

Nebel, C., Amar, A., Hegemann, A., Isaksson C., Sumasgutner, P. (2021) Parental morph combination does not influence innate immune function in nestlings of a colour-polymorphic African raptor. Scientific Reports, 11: 11053

Figure caption: 1) Blood sampling of a black sparrowhawk chick for the biomarker approach. 2) Black sparrowhawk moulting from the rufous brown juvenile plumage into the eponymous black adult plumage

 TV Tipp

Picture credits: Alex Limberger

"Highly motivated on four paws - dog puppy training in Upper Austria" with the conservation dog in training Nala on Thursday, 13.5. at 17:35 on ORF2.



 New paper published

The authors explain how raptors are well-suited to study potential COVID-19 anthropause effects with before–during–after lockdown comparisons that can inform conservation efforts. To do so, the authors launch the 'Global Anthropause Raptor Research Network' (GARRN) in collaboration with the Peregrine Fund's Global Raptor Impact Network.

Publication in "Biological Conservation":

Sumasgutner, P., Buij, R., McClure, C. J. W., Shaw, P., Dykstra, C. R., Kumar, N., Rutz, C. (2021) Raptor research during the COVID-19 pandemic provides invaluable opportunities for conservation biology. Biological Conservation, 109149


Figure: Examples of human–raptor interactions during the COVID-19 anthropause, and the Anthropocene more generally: (A) Recreational activities: A film crew on an observation tower overlooking a harpy eagle nest in the Arc of Deforestation, Southern Amazon Forest, Mato Grosso, Brazil. While human recreation can cause significant disturbance to raptors, this is a good example of how it can provide valuable funding for conservation work, which has been badly affected during lockdowns in many areas. (B) Habitat loss and landscape management: A crowned eagle nest in a Durban suburb, South Africa, where gardens and Eucalypts have replaced native forest. (C) Reduced traffic volume: Reduced noise and light pollution levels may have benefited nocturnal raptors, such as this burrowing owl in the USA. (D) Road kill: A reduction in road kill during the COVID-19 anthropause may have affected scavenging species, such as common buzzards, by reducing both foraging opportunities and collision risk. (E) Unintentional or (F) deliberate supplementary feeding: Hooded vultures gleaning meat scraps at a slaughter house in Cameroon, Central Africa, and black kites foraging on food subsidies offered for religious reasons in Delhi, India. (G) Increased persecution: A satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle found poisoned on a Scottish grouse moor during lockdown in April 2020. Photos reproduced with permission: E. Miranda (A); M. Graf and C. Sonvilla (B|C); Buij (D|E); G. and H. Singh (F); Police Scotland (G).

 Welcome Valentine & Gloria!

We welcome our new students Valentine and Gloria. Valentine is a master student in neuroscience from the University of Padova (Italy) and is working on her master thesis on object play behaviour in captive ravens. Gloria is a student of ethology from the University of Turin (Università degli Studi di Torino, Italia) and is also working on her master thesis studying captive ravens, focusing on the differences in parental care linked to sex in different degree of competition.

 Newly published

Picture credits: Marc Graf and Christine Sonvilla

"The African urban birds" special issue, guest edited by Petra Sumasgutner is published in "Ostrich - Journal of African Ornithology. Petra and Shane also contributed a review article on Urban Raptors in South Africa.

Open access until End of May!

Cover image: Crowned Eagle

 Urban Ecology in the Global South

Newly published - the book "Urban Ecology in the Global South" with the chapter "Urban Animal Diversity in the Global South" to which Petra Sumasgutner contributed the perspective on urban predators.

Predators in the city are still rarely studied but they add substantially to our understanding of functional diversity. Within the predator guild, raptors are amongst the better studied groups in urban ecology, and many species manage to persist in cities and adapt to anthropogenic influences despite their sensitivity to global change. To date, the majority of urban raptor research occurs in North America and Europe. However, findings in one region may not necessarily be representative of populations of the same species, or functional group, from other regions. In fact, of the 389 studies published between 1990 and 2018 [ISI web of knowledge search 20-05-2018, term 'urban raptor'], 82% were conducted in the Global North (Europe, North America, most part of Asia and Oceania) and only 10% were conducted in South America, 5% in Africa, and 3% in India. This in itself might create a severe bias towards Northern systems, which may lead to quite narrow conclusions regarding urban raptor behaviour, ecology and conservation.

 New publication on Red-winged Starlings

Picture credits: Kervin Prayag

In this project, Petra Sumasgutner and colleagues analysed body mass maintenance in Red-winged Starlings in relation to short-term food fluctuations (following human activity) and the proportion of urban areas within their home range sizes. Anthropogenic food availability was higher on high human presence days (weekdays) when starlings also consumed more anthropogenic food and tended to spend less time foraging compared to low human presence days (weekends and vacation). Furthermore, individual starlings with more built-up home ranges were heavier; they were also heavier and in better body condition on high human presence days.

Publication in "Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology":

Risi, T. C., Sumasgutner, P., Cunningham, S. J. (2021). Anthropogenic food availability and body mass maintenance in urban Red-winged Starlings Onychognathus morio. Ostrich, 1-10. doi:10.2989/00306525.2021.1906345

Happy Easter!

Picture credits: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

We wish everyone Happy Easter and happy holidays!

 New publication on Darwin finches

In a new paper published today in Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Colombelli-Negrel and Kleindorfer report on the following discovery. Two populations of the same species of Darwin's finch (Camarhynchus parvulus) living on two different Galapagos Islands show different patterns of gene flow and learned song types. Birds on Floreana Island produced six  song types (three shared with Santa Cruz and three unique to Floreana) and birds on Santa Cruz Island produced seven song types (three shared with Floreana and four unique to Santa Cruz). Resident males had a stronger response towards song from a different island. The study reports genetic and cultural divergence between islands with evidence that contemporary behavioural response could maintain divergence upon secondary contact.

Publication in "Journal of Evolutionary Biology":

Colombelli-Négrel, D., Kleindorfer, S. (2021) Behavioural response to songs between genetically diverged allopatric populations of Darwin's small tree finch in the Galápagos. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 00: 1-14

You can download the paper here.

 Welcome Céline!

We welcome our new student Céline Giorgetti from University of Burgundy (Dijon, France). She is doing an internship with us until the end of July, in which she is investigates dominance relationship and kleptoparasitism in free-flying ravens.

Endspurt in the NestCams project

Picture credits: Lämpel | Wikipedia - Grafik: SPOTTERON Citizen Science | | CC:BY-SA 3.0

The aim of the Citizen Science project NestCams is to discover how different breeding behaviours affect breeding success. For this purpose, short videos of the birds at the nest can be analysed online. The videos of the 2018 breeding season are finished and new videos from 2019 are available! Can we get 15,000 videos done by the end of April? We will raffle small gifts among all participants. Join us on NestCams and get to know the Greylag Geese Kendo, Dorothea, Lando, Sturmwind, Lukka, Lenka and Luna. Every single classification counts!

 New publication on Rufous horneros made the cover of Hormones and Behavior

A direct link between the oxidative status and aggressive behaviour has been hypothesised in vertebrates. Further, sex hormones like progesterone and testosterone have been suggested as mediators in that process. Until now, no causal relationship had been shown between aggression and oxidative status. In this new study featured in February's cover of Hormones and Behavior, Mentesana & Adreani demonstrate a causal relationship for the first time in a vertebrate. By performing experiments in the wild, they discovered that rufous horneros (Aves: Furnarius rufus) suffer a decrease in antioxidant capacity after engaging in territorial fights with con-specifics. Further, this effect was much stronger in female birds than in males and independent of progesterone or testosterone.

Cover caption: A pair of rufous horneros (Furnarius rufus) during a territorial fight with an intruder. Acute aggression alters the birds' oxidative condition. Photo with the permission of Roberto Cyrino.

Publication in "Hormones and Behavior":

Mentesana, L., Adreani, N. M. (2021) Acute aggressive behavior perturbates the oxidative status of a wild bird independently of testosterone and progesterone. Hormones and Behavior, 128: 104913

 Book release:The Science of Citizen Science

On 12.1.2021 the book "The Science of Citizen Science" was published open access with Springer, to which over 100 authors contributed, including over 10 from Austria. "This book is a wonderful conclusion of four years of intensive exchange within a European research network on citizen science. At the same time it signals a beginning, as its curriculum-like structure gives universities and others the opportunity to reflect on both the substantive contributions to research and the societal added value of Citizen Science," Dr. Katrin Vohland, Director General of the Natural History Museum Vienna and first editor of the book, is pleased to say. "In addition, the book offers practical support for implementing projects and also addresses emerging topics such as Citizen Science and Artificial Intelligence."

Link to the book: The Science of Citizen Science.

Link to the book chapter by Didone Frigerio et al.: Citizen Science in the Natural Sciences.

 Talk announcement

On Monday 11 January 2021, Dr. Nico Adreani presents his work "Call-based communication in groups of zebra finches" to the University of Vienna Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Biology Seminar.

In many seasonally breeding species sex hormones can induce changes in auditory perception. Until now, most studies of this phenomenon have focused in species with simple vocal cues (like fish or frogs) or in the case of species with diverse repertoires, like birds, only in one vocalisation type. But many, if not most birds, produce different vocalisations besides their song: calls. Calls can be diverse and have multiple functions depending on the ecological context. In this talk Nicolas will discuss different results on the relevance of contact calls for vocal communication and their auditory perception in freely behaving birds across changing environments.

Recent research published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

 Merry christmas!

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and relaxing holidays!

 New publication

In many seasonally breeding species sex hormones can induce changes in auditory perception. Until now, most studies of this phenomenon have focused in species with simple vocal cues (like fish or frogs) or in the case of species with diverse repertoires, like birds, only in one vocalisation type. But many, if not most birds, produce different vocalisations besides their song: calls. Calls can be diverse and have multiple functions depending on the ecological context. In this longitudinal study Dr. Nico M. Adreani et al. used telemetric technology to record vocal and neural activity in freely behaving zebra finches while inducing an environmental change (Picture/Fig 1). Adreani et al. show that breeding-induced changes in the auditory system of the birds are signal and emitter specific. This is, during breeding auditory processing changes only towards certain call types and only from specific emitters that are known to the receiver bird. Further, Adreani et al. provide evidence suggesting that estradiol is the hormones responsible for modulating this phenomenon. Altogether, the study provides evidence for a tight interaction between vocalisations type and auditory plasticity, a mechanism that can change the saliency of vocal signals across ecologically relevant contexts. The results significantly widen our understanding of the interaction between sensory plasticity and vocal categories, two elements that are fundamental for vocal communication evolution.

Publication in "Frontiers in Neuroscience":

Adreani, N. M., D'Amelio, P. B., Gahr, M., ter Maat, A. (2020) Life-Stage Dependent Plasticity in the Auditory System of a Songbird is Signal and Emitter-Specific. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 14:588672

 Congratulations on the successful habilitation!

We congratulate Dr. Didone Frigerio on the successful completion of her habilitation at the University of Vienna. In her habilitation, Didone dealt with "Interdisciplinary contribution to the study of animal behavior: Insight from mechanisms translated to the community". This gives her the teaching authority in biology and the right to use the title "Privatdozentin".


Picture credit: Pal Morandini

Congratulations to Katharina Huchler, who was awarded with the 'Scientific advancement award of the City of Vienna' for her masters project on the Eurasian kestrels in Vienna!

The Eurasian kestrel is a vole-specialist, that suffers from reduced productivity in urban habitats which has been attributed to lower availability of diurnal rodents. The Kestrel Project Vienna monitors a dense urban raptor population and coordinates a large citizen science community who reported arrival dates reliably after migration at nest-sites located at different degrees of urbanization since 2010. Intense monitoring further allowed an accurate evaluation of egg-laying dates. We used this unique system to unravel, for the first time in an urban raptor, the phenology of arrival and egg-laying in dependency of local weather conditions and urbanization. Our findings shed light on sensitive time windows that shape phenology, and the importance of precipitation, rather than temperature. Furthermore, our research indicates a strategy to mitigate later arrival by relatively earlier egg-laying. This reduced length of the courtship period suggests a behavioral adaption to take advantage of potentially favorable conditions at wintering grounds while avoiding egg-laying delay and associated declines in productivity with later onset of breeding. Thus, our study focuses on how weather shapes phenology in one of the few migratory urban raptor species.

 New publication: History and current status of the Northern Bald Ibis

Picture credit: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

The Northern Bald Ibis is one of the most endangered avian species worldwide. The disappearance from most of its former range is linked to habitat destruction, persecution and pesticides. The authors report on the history, current status and future perspectives of the endangered Northern Bald Ibis.

Publication in "Oryx":

Böhm, C., Bowden, C. G. R., Seddon, P. J., Hatipoglu, T., Oubrou, W., El Bekkay, M., Quevedo, M. A., Fritz, J., Yeniyurt, C., Lopez, J. M., Orueta, J. F., Frigerio, D., Unsöld, M. (2020) The northern bald ibis Geronticus eremita: history, current status and future perspectives. Oryx, 1-13

 New publication: Quality criteria for citizen science

The term 'citizen science' is often used for different activities, such as outreach or education. However, this use of the term may undermine the recognition of citizen science in academia. Thus, the authors of the publication present 20 quality criteria for citizen science.

Publication in "Citizen Science: Theory and Practice":

Heigl, F., Kieslinger, B., Paul, K. T., Uhlik, J., Frigerio, D., Dörler, D. (2020) Co-Creating and Implementing Quality Criteria for Citizen Science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 5(1): p.23

 New publication: Having a family improves digestion

Picture credit: Frontiers for Young Minds

We found that in greylag geese individuals with stable social relationships with their family members have better digestion and are more likely to breed successfully in the following breeding season. These are new insights into the benefits of social life in birds.

Publication in "Frontiers for Young Minds":

Gegendorfer, G., Frigerio, D. (2020) How having a family improves digestion in social geese. Frontiers for Young Minds, 8: 540008

 You and the owls

The protection of our environment requires a better understanding of psychological phenomena. These are likely to contribute to whether a person is prepared to work for its protection. To better understand psychological aspects of conservation, we study owls, because these animals do not leave us indifferent, we love or hate them!  In the following questions we would like to know what you spontaneously think about owls. We ask you several questions about owls, what you know, think and feel about them.

Click here to answer the questionnaire (about 5 minutes)

Do not hesitate to disseminate this questionnaire widely in your social environment!


 New publication on social networks in Northern Bald Ibis

Picture credits: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

We found that social interactions change with season, age and sex: (1) proximity to other colony members was higher during winter than autumn, (2) affiliative interactions were observed more frequently during winter, especially between former and prospective mates, (3) older individuals had more central positions in the social network than juveniles, and (4) males exchanged more agonistic interactions than females, while females received more affiliative interactions. Our findings suggest that social relationships may affect inter-individual distance.

Publication in "Journal of Ornithology":

Puehringer-Sturmayr, V., Stiefel, T., Kotrschal, K., Kleindorfer, S., Frigerio, D. (2020) Social interactions change with season and age in Northern Bald Ibis. J Ornithol.

 New publication on Black Sparrowhawks

Picture 1 - Picture credits: Marlene Hofmeyr

Picture 2 - Picture credits: Marlene Hofmeyr

In this study we show that blood parasite prevalence did not vary across South Africa in Black Sparrowhawks and found neither fitness costs of higher infection levels for breeding birds, nor for nestling's body condition. Thus, Black Sparrowhawk polymorphism is unlikely to be driven by an adaptive function linked to dealing with higher infections with Haemoproteus nisi in regions with wetter breeding seasons.

Picture 1: A black sparrowhawk light morph feeding its chick in the colour-ringed study population of the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology in Cape Town, South Africa

Picture 2: Black sparrowhawk chicks all grown up and ready to fledge. The dark and light adult plumage will only develop in their 2nd calendar year

Publication in "Journal of Ornithology":

McCarren, S., Sumasgutner, P., Tate, G., Koeslag, A., & Amar, A. (2020). Clinal variation in the polymorphic Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus is unrelated to infection by the blood parasite Haemoproteus nisi. Journal of Ornithology. doi:10.1007/s10336-020-01823-3

 Biologicum Almtal and Junior Biologicum 2020

Biologicum Almtal and Junior Biologicum 2020 will be held ONLINE as a joint lecture series due to the current Covid-19 situation. The topic of this year's event is "Constructing Life. How humans and other animals design their environment". Furthermore a focus will be put on Citizen Science.

Series of lectures

The topics range from the construction of the ecological niche, the amazing constructions of animals and their ecosystem management, to the human activities that shape the world. People and other animals do not simply use what "nature" offers them. Rather, they actively shape, construct their ecological and social living conditions. The Covid-19 pandemic shows this: the virus as an evolutionary-biological factor is not simply passively accepted; rather, humans take development into their own hands and thus - like other living beings - shape their living conditions and ultimately the biosphere.

The participation is free of charge. A registration is mandatory.


In times of "social distancing" and home office, we find being outside in nature to be particularly beneficial and relaxing. On the originally planned Biologicum Almtal weekend (October 2 to 4) we offer a series of excursions in the Almtal. Scientists* from the KLF will provide insights into their current research (ravens, grey geese, wood bustards, songbirds). In addition, there will be a legend hike, Kneipp sessions on the alpine pasture and a guided tour with the forester to his favorite places in the nature reserves in the Almtal.

The participation is free of charge. A registration is required. The number of participants is limited.

 New publication: Duets as territorial defence

Picture credits: Mario Oscar Roqueta

Quantifying multivariate behaviours such as territorial defence is not an easy task and this is the main challenge in studying animal behaviour. In this paper we applied a structural-equation modelling approach to investigate territorial defence in a neotropical bird, the rufous hornero (Furnarius rufus). The rufous hornero forms long lasting pair-bonds, the pair defends their territory year-round and males and females engage in complex duet songs. We quantified the territorial defense behavior of males and females across different contexts and tested the hypothesis that duets are central signals of territorial defense. We found that: I) males are more territorial than females, ii) duets are as strong as physical traits during territorial defense, iii) within a pair birds are highly coordinated in territorial defense and iv) territorial defense behaviour does not change across seasons. Our study provides for the first time a sex- and context-comparison of the multivariate, latent variable 'territorial defence' in duetting birds, while highlighting the potential of combining field behavioural approaches with structural equation modelling.

Publication in "Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology":

Mentesana, L., Moiron, M., Guedes, E., Cavalli, E., Tassino, B., Adreani, N. M. (2020) Defending as a unit: sex- and context-specific territorial defence in a duetting bird. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 74:111

 Vienna Kestrel project on "Österreich forscht"

Picture credis: Claudia Hofmann

The "Vienna Kestrel Project" has been investigating the diverse adaptations of Kestrels to survival under urban conditions since 2010. The location of nesting sites plays a decisive role in this respect. Because this is a Citizen Science Project, everyone can participate in this project and collect valuable data. We are happy about sightings from nesting sites!
For more information on how to participate and where to report sightings, please visit the project homepage on "Österreich forscht".

 How a little backpack could affect the life of a wild bird

Picture credits: Frontiers for Young Minds

GPS transmitters (little backpacks) - carried by Northern Bald Ibis - had an effect on corticosterone (stress hormone) metabolites, but not on the behaviour. After one month of carrying a GPS transmitter, the excretion of corticosterone metabolites was still increased, but two months after excretion patterns returned back to baseline. Thus, it is important to investigate physiology, even though birds do not show a change in behaviour.


The paper "Effects of bio-loggers on behaviour and corticosterone metabolites of Northern Bald Ibises (Geronticus eremita) in the field and in captivity" was newly published in the Journal "Frontiers for Young Minds" to make it also accessible for young readers! Science for kids, edited by kids - In this journal manuscripts are reviewed by a board of kids and teens.

Publication in "Frontiers for Young Minds":

Puehringer-Sturmayr V, Hemetsberger F and Frigerio D (2020) Tracking Birds: How a Little Backpack Could Affect the Life of a Wild Bird. Front. Young Minds. 8:116. doi: 10.3389/frym.2020.00116

Original publication in "Animal Biotelemetry":

Puehringer-Sturmayr, V., Loretto, M. A., Hemetsberger, J., Czerny, T., Gschwandegger, J., Leitsberger, M., Kotrschal, K., Frigerio, D. 2020. Effects of bio-loggers on behaviour and corticosterone metabolites of Northern Bald Ibises (Geronticus eremita) in the field and in captivity. Anim. Biotelemetry 8:2. doi: 10.1186/s40317-019-0191-5

 New publication

This article is an open access publication accessible to readers anywhere in the world and is the result from Katharina Huchler's Masters thesis. We show that arrival times of kestrels after migration did not vary between the city and the countryside, but that egg-laying started earlier in more natural areas than in the urban centre. Egg-laying was furthermore influenced by precipitation, in a way that kestrels laid earlier when weather conditions were drier. In the face of climate change we therefore expect further egg-laying advances in the species.

Publication in "Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution":

Huchler, K., Schulze, C. H., Gamauf, A., Sumasgutner, P. (2020) Shifting Breeding Phenology in Eurasian Kestrels Falco tinnunculus: Effects of Weather and Urbanization. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 8: 247

Picture credit: Claudia Hofmann

Picture credit: Franz Kerschbaum

Picture credit: Petra Sumasgutner

 New publication

To receive food more regularly it pays to have contrasting parents. The black sparrowhawk comes in two colour morphs; dark or light. Pairs consisting of contrasting morphs provide prey at more regular intervals than like-morph pairs, but overall deliver similar amounts of prey. This suggests that pairs of contrasting morphs exploit different environmental conditions for hunting. This consistency in prey deliveries may explain why offspring from mixed-morph pairs have higher survival rates.

Publication in "Behavioral Ecology":

Nebel C, Sumasgutner P, McPherson SC, Tate GJ, Amar A. 2020. Contrasting parental color morphs increase regularity of prey deliveries in an African raptor. Behavioral Ecology.

 South African raptors - Vom Leben der Natur

This week Petra Sumasgutner spoke about South African raptors in the Ö1 series "Vom Leben der Natur". Missed it? No problem, you can also listen to the entire series online.


Part 1: Beutegreifer in der Stadt

Part 2: Raubtiere im Hinterhof

Part 3: Ökologische Gleichgewichte

Part 4: Leben in Nationalparks

Part 5: Zusammenarbeit mit der Bevölkerung

Picture credit: Petra Sumasgutner

Picture credit: David Mills

Picture credit: Nestkamera Black Sparrowhawk Project

Picture credit: Shane Sumasgutner

 New publication on African urban raptors

Picture credit: Andrew Jenkins

In Africa, rates of human population growth and urbanisation are among the highest in the world. Additionally, climate change is predicted to have a particularly high impact on the Cape Peninsula. Our study is one of the first to consider urbanisation and weather conditions simultaneously, specifically over a long period of 26 years and including detailed information on the timing of breeding which is often missing in long-term raptor monitoring data. We show that weather did not impact breeding performance of peregrine falcons directly (breeding success and fledged brood size), but timing of breeding did, with earlier breeders producing more fledglings. Furthermore, warm and dry weather conditions advanced the timing of breeding, but this relationship between breeding phenology and weather was not apparent in pairs using nest boxes in urban areas. Our findings enforce the notion that falcons breeding in specially provided nest boxes are less sensitive to local weather dynamics, including extreme weather events, which are predicted to increase with climate change. This has important implications for urban conservation and the use of nest boxes as a management tool.

Publication in "PLoS ONE":

Sumasgutner P, Jenkins A, Amar A, Altwegg R. 2020. Nest boxes buffer the effects of climate on breeding performance in an African urban raptor. PLoS ONE, 15: e0234503.


Picture credit: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Daniel Dörler of Österreich forscht presented various Citizen Science projects in the ORF-1-Freistunde, including "NestCams" from the Konrad Lorenz Research Centre. The video is available in the ORF 1 TvThek.

Newton ORF-1-Freistunde video

Interview with Daniel Dörler

 Podcast about the Kestrel Project Vienna

Petra Sumasgutner was today's guest at the "Bienengespräche" a podcast about bees and nature by Lothar Bodingbauer where she spoke about the Kestrel Project Vienna, its Citizen Science component in reporting nest sites and her work at the Konrad Lorenz Research Center.

Here the link to the podcast.

Photo credit: Heinrich Frötscher

Photo credit: Franz Kerschbaum

Photo credit: Harald Mannsberger

Photo credit: Norbert Jalitsch

 Wundersame Waldrappe - Vom Leben der Natur

Photo credit: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

From 18 May till 22 May 2020 Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr spoke in an Ö1 interview with Lothar Bodingbauer about the Northern Bald Ibis and the current research at the Konrad Lorenz Research Center. The conservation was broadcasted on Ö1 as part of the series "Vom Leben der Natur".

If you missed it, you can also listen to the entire series online (approx. still one month available).


Part 1: Zugvogel mit Starthilfe

Part 2: Charakteristische Laute

Part 3: Forschung im Almtal

Part 4: Wissenschaftliche Distanz

 New publication on Crowned Eagles

Photo credit: Paolo Candotti, Kloof Conservancy (

The authors show that Crowned Eagles change their breeding strategy in urban areas by increasing their breeding rate, but found nest failures occurred more often at more urbanized sites. These contrasting responses counteracted each other and resulted in similar productivity across the urbanization gradient and highlighted the value of long-term data.

Publication in "The Condor":

Mueller, R., Amar, A., Sumasgutner, P., McPherson, S. C., Downs, C. (2020) Contrasting effects of urbanization on breeding performance measures in the threatened African Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus). The Condor, duaa024


Here are the links to the online article:

 The Cumberland Game Park in Grünau and the Zoo Vienna reopen

Since today (15 May 2020) visits to Austrian zoos and wildlife parks are allowed again.

Amazing news: Participating in research is (again) possible with the apps KraMobil and Forschen im Almtal. We are looking forward to many contributions. Please check the local rules and regulations directly on  zoovienna and game park Grünau.

Check out our new project and app "KraMobil" in cooperation with the Zoo Vienna, where you can spot crows in the zoo and help to find out which species and subspecies of crows are living in the Zoo Vienna and which behaviour they exhibit. 

For more information on the apps and how to participate please visit

 Wildpark Challenge for Citizen Scientists

From May 15th to October 15th, visitors to the Cumberland Wildpark Grünau can take part in the KLF's research as part of the "Wildpark Challenge" and win great prizes. To participate, you need to download the app "Forschen im Almtal". During the hike through the Wildpark, sightings of greylag geese, northern bald ibises and ravens, their behaviour and individual markings (leg rings, wingtags) can be entered and uploaded into the app. Have fun participating in the research!

Download app:

Picture: Spotteron

Picture: KinderUni OÖ/ Th. Reibnegger

Picture: KinderUni OÖ/ Th. Reibnegger

Picture: KinderUni OÖ/ Th. Reibnegger

Picture: KinderUni OÖ/ Th. Reibnegger

 Follow us on Twitter!

The Konrad Lorenz Research Center has now an offical Twitter account.

 Monitoring raven nests with a drone...

Our UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is a DJI Marvic, registered with austro control and permitted for field surveys, specifically to monitor raven nests. Research thus far indicates that the use of drones to monitor nests can speed up the process and reduce stress on birds. In using this tool, we can assess the stage of breeding in less than one minute of disturbance. We can search for nests on cliffs, and obtain high quality and quick information on clutch or brood size, and we can age the nestlings accurately based on their plumage development. However, we also closely monitor the reaction of the breeding pair, to quantify any signs of stress (e.g., alarm calling or flying toward the drone) and can abandon a survey at any time if necessary.

The video shows one of our raven nests in the valley, where the nestlings are just a couple of days old. It provides insights into the method. Filming and photographing is only used directly at the nest site - we do not take any footage during the approach, and chose our path carefully away from people's houses (in line with our research permit). Here we recorded the descent to introduce the field researchers involved: Shane as pilot, concentrating on the flight, using his goggles for maximal resolution; and Petra as spotter, observing the entire process with binoculars or the scope, so we do not miss any reaction of our wildlife in the surroundings.

If you are interested in the whole video footage, please visit our Facebook page.

 Happy Easter!

Picture: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

We wish everyone Happy Easter and happy holidays! Stay healthy!

 New publication

From the rich conference program of the Austrian Citizen Science Conference 2019, 11 papers were published in the Conference Proceedings, which are freely available in the Proceedings of Science. The 11 papers give a nice insight into the conference topics.

One paper discusses challenges and solutions when working with citizen scientists by using the app "Forschen im Almtal".

Extended Abstract in "Proceedings of Science":

Frigerio, D., Puehringer-Sturmayr, V., Steinbacher, C., Rittenschober, J., Kleindorfer, S. (2020). Citizen science, animal behaviour and digital devices: challenges and solutions. 5th Austrian Citizen Science Conference, 2019 June 26-28, Obergurgl, Austria. PoS(ACSC2019)002

Here the link to the publications.

 When field research is cancelled...

The crisis caused by the coronavirus also changes the lives of researchers. Didone Frigerio was asked how her everyday life has changed in terms of her work as a scientist, how she maintains contact with colleagues and how she handles isolation.

You can read this article here.

 Welcome Shane!

Dr Shane Sumasgutner is a conservation biologist, with a special interest in birds of prey. Shane qualified with BSc and Post Graduate Diploma in Zoology at Massey University in New Zealand in 2005. This was followed by a variety of field assistant positions on research and conservation projects; including the Mongolia Saker Falcon Artificial Nest Project, The Peregrine Fund’s East Africa Projects, Parakeet Conservation for Mauritius Wildlife Foundation and managing a team conducting a Windfarm Avifauna Impact Assessment in New Zealand. Shane then took those experiences forward to complete a PhD on The Urban Ecology of African Crowned Eagle at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  This project was extended a further three years with a postdoc position, concurrently developing breadth and depth of technical skills such as drone piloting, rope access on cliffs and trees, a variety of trapping methods, banding, tagging and telemetry, and using these to support research by peers and students across a range of vertebrate fauna in South Africa.

Shane recently moved to Austria with recently appointed KLF postdoctoral fellow Dr. Petra Sumasgutner, and while he awaits work permits he is volunteering at the KLF to fill in gaps where needed, such as helping to monitor the goose occupancy patterns between KLF and Cumberland Gamepark. Once the permit and pandemic situations are resolved he will be back out in the mountains to extend the KLF research on wild ravens and raptors.

 How do threats like predation and climate change affect the behaviour and survival of animals?

Petra Sumasgutner aims to understand the response of birds to land-use and climate change. Within this large research field, she is mainly interested in predator-prey and host-parasite relationships, and how these complex interactions change through anthropogenic influences.

At the Konrad Lorenz Research Centre, she now coordinates the long-term research project on wild ravens, and analyses movement patters in relation to anthropogenic resources and threats, and information transfer within the scavenger community, including golden eagles. Furthermore, she will work on Darwin’s finches and how predation risk imposed by introduced and native predators shapes physiology, behaviour and long-term fitness.


Dr. Petra Sumasgutner PhD (University of Vienna, Austria)



 The KLF welcomes a new postdoctoral researcher

Dr. Mauricio Nicolas Adreani (known as Nico) did his undergraduate degree at University of Buenos Aires in Argentina and his PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology on avian biology. His research specialisations are neural and endocrine biology and vocal communication. Nico is currently studying the endocrine modulation of aggression in birds and leading a citizen science project on avian nest architecture in South America. Nico’s main role at the KLF will be to discover the emergence and coordination of collective behaviour through vocal communication in the wild and its link with reproductive success. His study species will be ravens, greylag geese and Darwin’s finches. Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen are great inspirations, and Nico says “so of course I am very happy to be at the KLF. I am a passionate birdwatcher too.“
Nico is currently in the home office due to the corona crisis.

 New paper published

Picture: Lauren Common and Sonia Kleindorfer

Sonia Kleindorfer, Lauren Common and colleagues studied the temporal changes in body size of the myiasis-causing parasite Philornis downsi (Diptera: Muscidae) in the Galápagos Islands under conditions of previous host mortality in the nest (Darwin's finches).

Publication in Journal of Evolutionary Biology:

Common, L.K., O’Connor, J.A., Dudaniec, R.Y., Peters, K.J., Kleindorfer, S. (2020). Evidence for rapid downward fecundity selection in an ectoparasite (Philornis downsi) with earlier host mortality in Darwin’s finches. Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

 KLF researchers on the Galapagos Islands

KLF researchers are leading study into the behavioural ecology of Darwin's finches on Floreana Island, Galapagos. Threatened with extinction, the famous Darwin's finch group takes new challenges from introduced species. PhD students Mario Gallego-Abenza and Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr use their expertise in radio tracking to better understand their habits.
Prof. Dr. Sonia Kleindorfer is overseeing the project since 2000. More news to follow as the team will be on the island till March 15 2020.

Austrian Citizen Science Conference 2020

Picture: Georg Schroll

University of Vienna and Citizen Science Network Austria will be hosting the 7th Austrian Citizen Science Conference. It will take place on the campus of the Uniersity of Vienna. The Konrad Lorenz Research Station is involved in the event organisation.

The 7th Austrian Citizen Science Conference will be organised according to the criteria of the "Österreichisches Umweltzeichen" for Green Events.

Event for Download

 New paper published

Picture: verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr and colleagues have published a paper on the effects of GPS-transmitters on the behaviour and physiology of northern bald ibises.

Publication in Animal Biotelemetry:

Puehringer-Sturmayr, V., Loretto, M.C., Hemetsberger, J. et al. Effects of bio-loggers on behaviour and corticosterone metabolites of Northern Bald Ibises (Geronticus eremita) in the field and in captivity. Anim Biotelemetry 8, 2 (2020) doi:10.1186/s40317-019-0191-5

 The KLF in the animal documentary TV series "Anna und die wilden Tiere"

A film crew was shooting at the Konrad Lorenz Research Center last May. Now you can watch the episode "The greylag goose and its goslings" in the animal documentary TV series "Anna und die wilden Tiere".

Watch the video

picture: Text und Bild

picture: Text und Bild

picture: Text und Bild

 New paper published

Haemoproteus parasites in doves in Cape Town

Credits: Samantha McCarren

Petra Sumasgutner and colleagues have explored bird malaria parasites in the pigeon population in Cape Town and discovered high prevalence and infection intensities. High infection intensities were also related to a loss in body weight, but not to plumage melanism.

Publication in 'Parasitology Research':

Nebel, C., Harl, J., Pajot, A. et al. Parasitol Res (2019).

 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Archiv KLF

The team of the Konrad Lorenz research center wishes a Merry Christmas, relaxing holidays and all the best for 2020!

 Topping out ceremony for the new building

In the presence of many supporters, the topping-out ceremony for the new building was celebrated on 16.12.19, thus thanking the building workers for their good work.

Rektor Heinz W. Engl, Vizerektorin Regina Hitzenberger, Leiterin der Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle, Sonia Kleindorfer, Präsident des Wildpark Betreibervereines, Johann Vielhaber, Landtagsabgeordneter Bürgermeister Rudolf Raffelsberger (in Vertretung von Landeshauptmann Thomas Stelzer und Landesrat Markus Achleitner), Vertreter der Herzog Cumberland Stiftung Manfred Hörler, Bezirkshauptmann Alois Lanz, Bürgermeister Wolfgang Bammer, Gemeindevorstände Hannes Stockhammer, Markus Steinmaurer und Georg Stieglbauer.

Press release for download

 New Publication

Picture: S. Kleindorfer

Research into the gut microbiome of the famous Darwin's finch adaptive radiation shows that diet and habitat are stronger predictors of gut microbiome than phylogeny.

Publication in Scientific Reports:

Loo WT, Dudaniec RY, Loor JG, Kleindorfer S, Cavanaugh CM (2019). Host phylogeny, diet, and habitat differentiate the gut microbiomes of Darwin's finches on Santa Cruz Island. Scientific Reports 9: 18781

Download here

 Check it out! NestCams is now also available in German

We have now translated NestCams into German to facilitate the communication with our Citizen Scientists from the German-speaking world. Just take a look and try out what it means to be a behavioural biologist by helping us to answer the following question: Why are some breeding pairs successful and others not?

You can watch greylag geese and northern bald ibises while they are breeding on their nests.

Just click on the following link!

 New Paper published

Well-considered decisions fill the stomach

Mario Gallego-Abenza investigated the foraging success of wild common ravens, Corvus corax, experiencing high levels of kleptoparasitism from conspecifics when snatching food from the daily feedings of captive wild boars in a game park. Success in keeping the food depended mainly on the individuals’ age class and was positively correlated with the time to make a decision in whether to fly off with food or consume it on site.

Publication in "Ethology":

Gallego-Abenza M, Loretto M-C, Bugnyar T. Decision time modulates social foraging success in wild common ravens, Corvus corax. Ethology. 2019;00:1–10. https ://

Download the pdf here

 The Dean Amadon Grant goes to Petra Sumasgutner

Congratulations to Petra Sumasgutner on receiving the Dean Amadon Grant!

The Grant is named after Dean Amadon, one of the great ornithologists and raptor researchers, who published the series "Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of the World" (1968) together with Leslie Brown. He passed away in 2003.

Petra received the grant for her Golden Eagle project in Mongolia: "Are Central Asian Golden Eagles genetically distinct? The distribution of the subspecies Aquila chrysaetos daphanea in Mongolia".

It was carried out in cooperation with the Natural History Museum Vienna and partners in South Africa (Dr. Megan Murgatroyd and Dr. Shane McPherson). The field work was financed by L'Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science Grant, the genetic evaluations by Amadon Grant.

 New Publication

How can a dialogue be conducted at eye level in Citizen Science projects? What significance can storytelling have? The applicability of storytelling in scientific processes and Citizen Science activities was investigated.

Publication in "Journal of Science Communication":

Richter, A., Sieber, A., Siebert, J., Miczajka-Rußmann, V. L., Zabel, J., Ziegler, D., Hecker, S., Frigerio, D. (2019) Storytelling for narrative approaches in citizen science: towards a generalized model. Journal of Science Communication 18(06):A02

 We would like to introduce our new PostDoc: Dr. Petra Sumasgutner

We would like to warmly welcome Petra and look forward to working with her!

Petra is an urban ecologist and raptor researcher who recently transitioned from a post-doc fellowship at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Cape Town to the Konrad Lorenz Research Centre. She initiated the Viennese Kestrel Project as her PhD research, and graduated from the University of Vienna in 2014. Ever since she has been involved in a variety of post-doc projects, bringing her to Northern Finland, where she focused on how agricultural intensification influences the demography of Eurasian Kestrels, and Southern Africa, where she worked on several different urban ‘raptor’ species, including Black Sparrowhawks, Peregrine Falcons, Crowned Eagles, and the infamous Red-winged Starlings known to steal junk food from local students. In her free time, you will find Petra exploring the world hiking, paragliding or diving.

At the Konrad Lorenz Research Centre she will work as a joined post-doc with Prof. Dr. Thomas Bugnyar and Prof. Dr. Sonia Kleindorfer. Petra will take advantage of the established study systems at the KLF, especially the common raven research project, where she will focus on movement ecology and behavioural adaptations in the face of global change.

 New Publication: Experience modulates an insect's response to anthropogenic noise

Picture: Wolfgang Wagner

Field cricket males reduce their chirp rate in response to traffic noise. However, experienced individuals - i.e. regular exposure to anthropogenic noise - decreased their chirp rate less than non-experienced ones. This suggests that a regular exposure to noise reduces an individual's sensitivity to noise.

Publication in "Behavioral Ecology":

Gallego-Abenza, M., Mathevon, N., Wheatcroft, D. (2019) Experience modulates an insect's response to anthropogenic noise. Behavioral Ecology, arz159,

 New KLF building: Month 6

September 2019: We are pleased with the progress on the construction site.

Picture: Didone Frigerio

 New Publication: Taxonomic Shifts in Philornis Larval Behaviour

Our new study reveals that the parasite Philornis downsi has undergone shifts in behaviour across taxonomic groups and in recent times as an invasive species threatening land birds on the Galapagos Islands.

Publication in "Life Cycle and Development of Diptera":

Common, L. K., Dudaniec, R. Y., Colombelli-Négrel, D., Kleindorfer, S. (2019) Taxonomic Shifts in Philornis Larval Behaviour and Rapid Changes in Philornis downsi Dodge & Aitken (Diptera: Muscidae): An Invasive Avian Parasite on the Galápagos Islands. In: Life Cycle and Development of Diptera. DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.88854

Download the pdf here.

 Jane Goodall interview

Picture: Daniela Matejschek

On 11 September 2019, Sonia Kleindorfer interviewed Jane Goodall at the Hotel Bristol in Vienna. Jane shared memories of Konrad Lorenz and spoke about the value of citizen scientists and youth engagement programs for a healthy planet.

During 1989-1990 Sonia was the site co-director for the Animal Behaviour Research Unit at Mikumi National Park in Tanzania where Sonia studied free-ranging baboons. Jane Goodall helped pick out and establish the site.

Later Sonia spent a few weeks with Jane Goodall, Anthony Collins and Christophe Boesch observing chimpanzees at Gombe stream. Sonia arrived on the same canoe as Jane and before they arrived on shore, Jane gave a chimp greeting call from the boat that was answered by chimps in the forest.

In 1991, Sonia was a volunteer with Jane and her team to help organise fundraising for the launch of the Roots and Shoots program. Sonia helped organise and then attend the main fund raising dinner in Tanzania with former President Mwinyi.

In 2006, Jane was awarded an Honorary doctorate from Flinders University and Sonia said hello to her at Town Hall in Adelaide.

In 2019, Sonia interviewed Jane again after they had first met 30 years prior.

 New Paper published

Picture: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Primary school children as citizen scientists!

Pupils conducted a two-year survey to assess the knowledge of the public regarding the knowledge about the northern bald ibis and the attitude towards science. The percentage of correct answers increased over the years. Furthermore, pupils acted as multipliers of scientific knowledge and were encouraged through education-based activities and the regular contact to scientists.

Publication in "PeerJ":

Frigerio, D., Puehringer-Sturmayr, V., Neuböck-Hubinger, B., Gegendorfer, G., Kotrschal, K., Hirschenhauser, K. (2019) Monitoring public awareness about the endangered northern bald ibis: a case study involving primary school children as citizen scientists. PeerJ 7:e7569

Download the pdf here.

 NestCams officially released on Zooniverse

Check it out!

NestCams has been officially released on Zooniverse. In this project you can help scientists (a team around behavioural biologist Didone Frigerio) of the Konrad Lorenz Research Centre to take a closer look at the incubation behaviour of greylag geese and northern bald ibis. Since 2018, the breeding huts of the greylag geese and the breeding niches of the northern bald ibis have been equipped with cameras. Short video sequences will give an insight into the incubation behaviour and why some pairs are successful breeders and others not.

You would like to help us and watch greylag geese and northern bald ibis up close during the breeding season? Then follow this LINK to the project.

Have fun!

Picture: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

 New paper published

Picture: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Social context in early stages of life has long-term effects on greylag geese

Being socially active is not only a must for people. A team led by the behavioural biologists Didone Frigerio and Georgine Szipl from the Konrad Lorenz Research Centre investigated how integration into the group affects physiology, agonistic interactions and fitness in greylag geese.

Conclusion: The social context in early life stages has long-term effects on the animals.

Publication in "Scientific Reports":

Szipl, G., Depenau, M., Kotrschal, K., Hemetsberger, J., Frigerio, D. (2019) Costs and benefits of social connectivity in juvenile Greylag geese. Scientific Reports 9: 12839

Press release of the University of Vienna

 New KLF building: Month 5

August 2019: There's something going on at the construction site!

 New students

We would like to warmly welcome our new students and pupil interns!

Master students:

  • Milena Holzer: Common ravens
  • Kevin Schirz: Northern bald ibises


  • Ines Meyer: Common ravens
  • Ana Tomašić: Common ravens

Visiting students from Australia:

  • Lauren Common: Evolving relationship between Darwin's finches and Philornis downsi fly
  • Claire Lawrance: Non-invasive identification of Koalas using facial recognition

Pupil interns:

  • Valentin Föger
  • Felix Hirschenhauser
  • Kerstin Stadler
  • Elias Stoik
  • Francesca Hemetsberger

Our pupil interns are also actively helping to dismantle the nest cameras from the breeding huts of the greylag geese.

Picture: Kerstin Stadler

Picture: Kerstin Stadler

Picture: Kerstin Stadler

 New paper published

Picture: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

A new paper on how pupils (8- to 10-year old) learning and science commitment was influenced by the active involvement in learning opportunities with the Northern Bald Ibis and researchers was published. The pupils showed a clear learning progress on the Northern Bald Ibis behaviour in particular and a general interest in birds especially on a long timescale.

Publication in "PLoS ONE":

Hirschenhauser, K., Frigerio, D., Leighinger, V., Schenkenfelder, I., Neuböck-Hubinger, B. (2019). Primary pupils, science and a model bird species: Evidence for the efficacy of extracurricular science education. PLoS ONE 14(7): e0220635

 New KLF building

Picture: Didone Frigerio

A first insight into the building plan of our new research center. There will be plenty of space for offices and laboratories. We are very excited about the building plan and look forward to moving.

 New KLF building: Month 4

July 2019: The crane's up, the diggers are there. Now the construction of the new KLF building can begin.

 ARTE film team

Foto: Valentin Föger

A film team from ARTE visited the KLF to make a film about the current research on the greylag geese. The film will be broadcasted in the next year. Stay tuned!

 New KLF building: Month 3

June 2019: The excavators are already at work.

 Workshop: Science communication with children and young people

Foto: Sonia Kleindorfer

Last Wednesday Bernhard Weingartner was with us at the Konrad Lorenz Research Center and exchanged experiences and tips with us in order to prepare science communication with this very special target group in terms of content, organisation and dramaturgy.

We received tips and did exercises according to the motto: Simplify with catchy pictures, metaphors and comparisons according to age - but still don't tell fairy tales!

Thank you very much - it was very exciting, we learned a lot!!!

 Post-doc position available

Foto: KLF Archiv

A 6-year post-doc position at the Konrad Lorenz Research Station (Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Vienna) is available and announced by Prof. Dr. Sonia Kleindorfer. We search for a researcher with expertise in bioacoustics and a sincere interest in studying animals in their natural environments, notably ravens and greylag geese, but also Darwin's finches on the Galapagos islands. For more information please click on this link.

 News from the Galapagos Islands

Foto: K. Peters

Sonia Kleindorfer and colleagues published another exciting paper about the effects of a parasitic fly on the naris size of Darwin's finches living on the Galapagos Islands. The naris size influences song characteristics. The study was published in the Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and shows that birds with enlarged naris size produce song that are not species-specific anymore, and are easily mistaken for the song of closely related species. Thus, the risk of hybridization increases.

 New students

We welcome our new students Julie Thuillier from the Université de Reims (Master student) and Florian Ramberger from the University of Vienna (internship). Both are investigating the ontogeny of soical interactions in ravens.

Working Title: Effect of clutch size on social interactions between juvenile ravens.

 How having a partner and a family changes the stress levels of greylag geese

In this paper, researchers found that the stress level of greylag geese depends on the pair-bond status as well as the season. Thus, having a social partner is important in order to cope with stress.

The paper "Social and environmental factors modulate leucocyte profiles in free-living Greylag geese (Anser anser)" was newly published in the Journal "Frontiers for Young Minds" to make it also accessible for young readers! Science for kids, edited by kids - In this journal scientists write a manuscript which is reviewed by a board of kids and teens.

It's a great opportunity for young minds to learn about new findings in science and to engage the next generation of citizens and scientists. Interested? Write us an email if you would like to review a manuscript from scientists.

Congratulations to this publication in the journal "Frontiers for Young Minds"!

Publication in "Frontiers for Young Minds":

Frigerio, D., Hemetsberger, F., Wascher, C. A. F. (2019). How Having a Parnter and a Family Changes the Stress Levels of Greylag Geese. Frontiers for Young Minds, 7:68. doi: 10.3389/frym.2019.00068

 New KLF building: Month 1

April 2019: It's happening! The area of the new building for the research station has already been marked and the trees have been felled.


Matthias Loretto managed to get a highly competitive grant from the European Commission (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship). For this project he will transfer to the renowned Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell (Germany). From there he will spend several research stays in the Yellowstone National Park (USA) investigating the interactions between ravens and wolves. Congratulations!

 New publication

Congratulations to Sonia Kleindorfer (head of the KLF) and her colleagues on the publication of this field guide. The booklet is sold at the Charles Darwin Research Station on the Galapagos. All proceeds are being used to fund conservation projects and research.

 Happy Easter!

We wish you all a Happy Easter, lots of fun with the egg hunt and relaxing holidays!

Picture: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Picture: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

 New alumnus: Sabrina Jungheim

Congratulations to our master student, Sabrina Jungheim, on her Master of Science at the University of Vienna.

Topic of her Master thesis: Wolves changing enclosures - effects on spatio-temporal patterns

Congratulations and all the best for the future!

 The Biologicum Almtal goes into the next round!

Biologicum Almtal

This year for the 6th time the Biologicum will take place from 3 to 5 October 2019 in Grünau im Almtal.

Topic Biologicum Almtal: Warum wir so sind wie wir sind. Ein frischer Blick auf die Evolution

Junior Biologicum

This year for the first time with a new concept. Under the motto "Forsche Jugend diskutiert mit" pupils from the 9th grade onwards can discuss central topics of modern biology for one day. A special focus is on Citizen Science. The Junior Biologicum will take place on the 3 October 2019 in Grünau im Almtal.

Topic Junior Biologicum: Warum wir so sind wie wir sind. Ein frischer Blick auf die Evolution. Mit Impulsvorträgen und Science Café

The early bird registration is available until 15 July 2019.

Further information on the topic, the lecturers, registration and registration fees can be found here.

 The Citizen Science Award 2019 has started!

Foto: KLF archive

You now have the opportunity to participate until 5th July 2019. Join in and have fun while doing research!

The project "NestCams" of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station is also part of the Citizen Science Award. During the research period citizen scientists can watch and code short video sequences of breeding greylag geese and northern bald ibises, i.e. determine what the birds are doing on the nest. Just register on the platform Zooniverse and go to the project "NestCams" via this LINK or visit the website for more information!



­­­Nice prices await the winners!

1st price | 1000 EUR for the best school class

2nd price | 750 EUR for the second best school class

3rd price | material price for the best single person


For organisational reasons, prizes will only be awarded to participants from Austria.

DON'T FORGET: if you are going to compete for the Citizen Science Award, please send an email with your

  • Zooniverse user name,
  • email address and
  • contact information


We are proud to announce that already more than 1000 videos have been coded by citizen scientists on the first day of the Citizen Science Award! A big thank you to all who are participating and helping us with our research! is now online!

On this new website the Konrad Lorenz Research Station presents its and other international projects, through which one can directly participate as a Citizen Scientist in avian research. In addition, there is already more detailed information on the participation in the Citizen Science Award 2019 of the Center for Citizen Science.

 New paper published: Parents' vigilance increases survival chances of greylag geese goslings

Foto: Josef Hemetsberger

Did you know that greylag geese goslings have a better chance at survival when their parents invest more time in being aggressive and vigilant rather than foraging. Especially parental division of labour plays an important role. If you are interested to know more about this topic, please check out the following paper.

Publication in „Journal of Ornithology“:

Szipl, G., Loth, A., Wascher, C.A.F., Hemetsberger, J., Kotrschal, K., Frigerio, D. (2019). Parental behaviour and family proximity as key to gosling survival in Greylag Geese (Anser anser). Journal of Ornithology, DOI:

 New student

We welcome our new student Floor Eline Boekelman from the University of Groningen (Netherlands), who is working on her Masters thesis on the relationship between the individual variation in food calling and foraging decisions in wild ravens.

 New alumnus: Christiane Steinbacher

Congratulations to our master student, Christiane Steinbacher, for passing her master's exam at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna with an A.

Topic of her Master thesis: Social integration of juvenile ravens into a non-breeder group

We are happy that Christiane started to work now as a project assistant in our GreyBis4socs research group, where she takes care of the Apps "Forschen im Almtal" and "WaldrApp".

We wish you all the best for the future!



 Merry Christmas

Foto: Sonia Kleindorfer

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 New head of the KLF

We welcome our new head of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station, Prof. Dr. Sonia Kleindorfer, and look forward to working together!

Prof. Dr. Sonia Kleindorfer is an organismal systems biologist with a research focus on how animal behaviour shapes evolutionary dynamics in birds and parasites. She did her university study at University of Pennsylvania (Bachelor: Biological Basis of Behaviour), University of Vienna (PhD: Zoology), and University of Washington School of Medicine (Postdoc: Medicine). Field work underpins Sonia’s core research activity, which she conducts in Australia and the Pacific Islands (Galapagos, Fiji). She is Scientific Director of the Flinders Research Centre for Climate Adaptation and Animal Behaviour. She received the D.L. Serventy Medal in 2016 for outstanding research contribution to ornithology.

 New alumnus: Tanja Czerny

We would like to congratulate our master student, Tanja Czerny, for passing her master's exam with an A.

Topic of the Master thesis: Investigating social structure in Northern Bald Ibises (Geronticus eremita) by applying social network analysis

Congratulations and good luck for the future!

 Citizen Science Awards 2018 ceremony

The Citizen Science Awards 2018 ceremony took place in the Kuppelsaal of the Vienna University of Technology. The most dedicated Citizen Scientists were honored for their participation in one of 6 research projects. Within the framework of this event, interested people were able to get to know the 6 projects throughout the day through guided tours, workshops and hands-on stations.

We would like to congratulate the winners of this year's Citizen Science Award 2018 and in particular the committed Citizen Scientists of Forschen im Almtal.

The winners of Forschen im Almtal:

1st place 4B HAK of BBS Rohrbach, Price: 1.000€

2nd place 1B of the NMS Timelkam, Price: 750€

3rd place Martina Weingärtner, price: 500€ voucher for the Cumberland Game Park Grünau



Click here for the press release.

Foto: OeAD/APA-Fotoservice/Hörmandinger

Fotograf: Martin Hörmandinger

Foto: OeAD/APA-Fotoservice/Hörmandinger

Fotograf: Martin Hörmandinger

Foto: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Foto: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Foto: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Foto: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

 Master/PhD/Post doc positions available

Master project on vocal behaviour of wild ravens

Application deadline: 10 November 2018

PhD project on avian pairbond behaviour and social dynamics in a comparative setting and upon support by citizen scientists

Application deadline: 15 November 2018

Joined post doc position by Prof. Dr. Thomas Bugnyar and Prof. Dr. Sonia Kleindorfer. This position shall intensify the cooperation between the Department of Cognitive Biology and Behavioural Biology at the Konrad Lorenz Research Station Grünau.

Application deadline: 30 November 2018

For more information please click here.

 New paper published: Those who live in a good partnership digest better

Stable social relationships in greylag geese help the digestion, which could increase the reproductive success in the following breeding season. The digestive efficiency was higher in pairs with offspring than in pairs without offspring or singles. This suggests that there is an interaction between the social environment and the digestive efficiency.   

Publication in „Scientific Reports“:

Frigerio, D., Kotrschal, K., Fabro, C., Puehringer-Sturmayr, V., Iaiza, L., Hemetsberger, J., Mason, F., Sarnataro, C., Filacorda, S. (2018). Social context modulates digestive efficiency in greylag geese (Anser anser). Scientific Reports, 8: 16498.

 Proceedings of the Austrian Citizen Science Conference 2018 online

We are pleased that the proceedings of the Austrian Citizen Science Conference 2018 are now online and ready for download.

The Austrian Citizen Science Conference is organised annually by the Citizen Science Network Austria. The conference took place in Salzburg in February 2018 and researchers from the Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle presented their work. The talk and the poster have now been published in an article entitled "Involving pupils/citizens in long-term behavioural biology research: Lessons learnt and future perspectives".

Since 2010 the Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle actively involves pupils in research in the field of behavioural biology. In the present project, the visitors of the Cumberland game park Grünau were involved in the data collection on the spatio-temporal behavioural patterns of greylag goose families during the breeding season.

Have fun reading!

 New project in the Yellowstone National Park

Together with Prof. Thomas Müller and Kim Kortekaas, Prof. Thomas Bugnyar and Mario Gallego helped Dr. Matthias Loretto to conduct a pilot study in the Yellowstone National Park. Dr. Matthias Loretto got recently funded with a Marie Curie Fellowship to conduct a new research on raven-wolve interaction, which will begin in fall 2019.

Congratulations Matthias and all the best for your new project!

 International Raven Meeting in Maine

Prof. Thomas Bugnyar, Dr. Matthias Loretto and Mario Gallego travelled to the USA to attend the International Raven Meeting in Maine, which was hosted by Bernd Heinrich. An incredible opportunity to share ideas with co-workers and get updated on the current research conducted on Common Ravens (Corvus corax).

 Pictures of the photo competition published

Foto: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

We are excited to announce that the pictures of the winners of the photo competition "My Research in one Picture" of the University of Vienna were published in the Heureka this week. The Northern Bald Ibis picture "Let's cuddle darling" shot by Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr (PhD candidate at the KLF), which made the 2nd place in the competition, is also featured.

 Summer School on Citizen Science in Theory and Practice

The summer school on the topic "Citizen Science in Theory and Practice" took place from 15 to 19 October 2018 in Grünau im Almtal (location: JUFA Hotel Almtal). The event was organized by 3 PhD candidates of the Vienna Doctoral School CoBeNe of the University of Vienna. Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr and Lara Iaiza are working on social behaviour in Northern Bald Ibises and Greylag geese at the Core Facility KLF, whereas Arno Cimadom is working on the ecology of Galapagos finches at the Deapartment of Behavioural Biology in Vienna.

Citizen science is becoming increasingly important within the research community, as one can gain large, spatially and temporally scaled data sets. But how to get citizen scientists interested and how to deal with big data? What makes a successful study and where to publish your data? All these questions and more where addressed during the summer school via keynote talks held by international experts, workshops and discussions.

We would like to thank our speakers Peter BROWN from the Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge), Daniel DÖRLER from the University of Natural Resources and Life Science (Vienna), Didone FRIGERIO from the Core Facility Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle of the University of Vienna (Grünau im Almtal), Florian HEIGL from the University of Natural Resources and Life Science (Vienna), Philipp HUMMER from SPOTTERON Citizen Science (Vienna), Coleman KRAWCZYK from the University of Portsmouth (Portsmouth), Tina PHILLIPS from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Ithaca), Anett RICHTER from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (Leipzig) and Andrea SIEBER from the Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt (Klagenfurt) for their interesting talks and discussions. You and all the participants made our summer school to a great event.

 Badge for merit and retirement party

We cordially congratulate Kurt Kotrschal to the Golden Badge for Merit of the State of Upper Austria, which he is awarded with on the 15 November 2018. We already celebrated during the Biologicum Almtal - where many companions, current and former employees and colleagues came together for the retirement of Kurt Kotrschal - and recalled the last 30 years in words and pictures! Dear Kurt, we wish you all the best for the future!

 Citizen Science Award-Day 2018

The award ceremony for the Citizen Science Award 2018 will take place in Vienna on 12 November 2018. As part of the gala, the entire day is dedicated to Citizen Science. The Center for Citizen Science, together with the six research projects, invites all participants of the Citizen Science Award to participate. From 10:00 to 15:00, all school classes and individual persons who have participated in one of the six projects have the opportunity to visit guided tours, workshops and hands-on workshops to get to know the different research projects. We are there and are available for you in the UZA II (Althanstraße 14, 1090 Vienna) with playful hands-on stations, video-coding, spotting and a Science Café.

More information about the program and the registration can be found here.

 Ground-breaking ceremony for the new research center

Foto: Rooobert Bayer

Finally the time has come. On Saturday, 6 October 2018, the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Konrad Lorenz Research Center near the Cumberland game park Grünau took place. Deputy Governor Michael Strugl, Vice Rector Regina Hitzenberger, former Vice Rector Karl Schwaha, former Head of the Konrad Lorenz Research Center Kurt Kotrschal, Managing Director of the Wildpark Bernhard Lankmaier and President of the Wildpark Operators Association Johann Vielhaber were present. The main section of the new building will be similiar to the "Auingerhaus" (current research center). Also, more space is created for offices, laboratories and seminar rooms. We are already looking forward to the move to the new building!

You will find more information here.

 European Researchers' Night

On Friday, 28 September 2018, the European Researchers' Night - Sci4all - takes place from 10 AM until 12 PM at the TGM (Wexstraße 19-23, 1200 Vienna). This time we are also part of this amazing event and will inform you about the ongoing research at the KLF, our Citizen Science projects and how you can join our research as a Citizen Scientist. Come visit us at our stand! Suitable for the young as well as the older prospective researchers.

 New student and social service

We welcome our new student Fabio Ribelli from the University of Turin (Italy) and new social service Michael Auinger! Fabio is doing an internship working with free-ranging common ravens and is collecting data for his Master thesis.

 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society

The 48th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland took place from 10th to 14th September 2018 at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. One of the sessions was all about long-term monitoring of biodiversity using Citizen Science as a method. Didone Frigerio was presenting her work on "Involving pupils in long-term biological monitoring: lessons learnt and future perspectives".

Click here if you would like to know more about the Citizen Science Session.

 Upcoming Symposium October 4th to 6th!

The annual symposium "Biologicum Almtal" will be held again this year from October 4th to 6th in the beautiful Alm valley in Grünau, Upper Austria. Register now, as the number of participants is limited!

Go to registration

 Science made in Austria

The KLF was selected as one of Austria’s top research institutions by the Austrian Science Fund, FWF. In their brochure, the FWF listed several locations of excellent basic research “made in Austria”.

You can download the full brochure here.

 2nd place in the photo competition "My Research in one Picture"!

Foto: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Our colleague Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr made the 2nd place in the photo competition "My Research in one Picture" of the University of Vienna. The photo competition aims at helping early stage researchers to communicate their research and become more visible. Verena is currently working on her PhD thesis with Northern Bald Ibises, and submitted the picture (on the left) "Let's cuddle darling".






 The Gertrud Pleskot Award goes to Georgine Szipl

Foto: Katharina Buchegger

Congratulations to Georgine Szipl, who was awarded with the Gertrud Pleskot Award!

Which project or publication makes you proud the most?

Basically all my publications make me proud, because they are the result of hard work together with many talented colleagues. At the moment, I'm very proud of our latest work Attacked raven's flexibly adjust signaling behavior according to audience composition in Proceedings B. Despite excellent results, it has been a long and rocky road to publication, with much criticism and many rejections.

What are the challenges for young scientists and where do you see yourself in the future?

One of the biggest challenges for me is to confidently "woman" up in science and to not let criticism and setbacks get in the way, but to use them for yourself to get better. In the future, I would like to continue to do basic research, but to also put a new emphasis on the transfer of knowledge.

 Visitors at the KLF

On Friday, 25 May 2018, Karin Garstenauer (Managing Director, Phytopharma), Karin Boldt (Veterinary medicine and Animal Photography), Dr. Ing. Karin Rahman (Management, Sonnen Apotheke Gunskirchen) and Mag. Ingrid Haslauer (Management, bocom Corporate Communications GmbH) visited us. We introduced them to our Northern bald ibis colony and the ongoing projects as well as to our research. In particular, our cooperation involves bringing our research and projects to the attention of the general public, as well as raising the awareness of the society for nature (e.g. endangered species).

On Saturday, 9 June 2018, we once again welcome a group of Phytopharma at the KLF and the Naturtierpark Grünau.

We are looking forward to the visit and the cooperation!

Foto: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Foto: Christiane Steinbacher

 The first Northern bald ibis chicks fledged!

The first Northern bald ibis chicks fledged and were marked with coloured leg rings for individual identification. They can soon be observed in the meadows of Grünau im Almtal together with their parents and siblings. After fledging, they begin to independently search for food such as insects, earthworms, snails, etc.; but they still keep begging the parents for food, who skillfully ignore the begging calls. The juvenile Northern bald ibises can be distinguished from the adults by the grey feathers on their head. If you see Northern bald ibises in the meadows, you are welcome to spot them with our app "WaldrApp" and help us to investigate the ecological aspects of habitat selection of the Northern bald ibis.

Thank you very much!

Foto: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

Foto: Christiane Steinbacher

 New Paper Published!

Foto: Georgine Szipl

Our latest study on ravens shows that ravens strategically adjust their calling to the composition of the audience. They call their allies to help them, but avoid calling if allies of the aggressors are in the audience.

Publication in "Proceedings B":

Szipl, G., Ringler, E., & Bugnyar, T. (2018). Attacked ravens flexibly adjust signalling behaviour according to audience composition. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 285(1880), 20180375.

 Donation for our Northern Bald Ibises

We would like to thank Phytopharma GmbH & Co.KG in Ternberg and especially Ms Karin Garstenauer (CEO) for the generous donation. This financial support is used for high quality food, such as insects, during the breeding season.

Thank you so much!

 Summer School 2018

Foto: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr


It is our pleasure to announce the Summer School 2018: Citizen Science in Theory and Practice which will take place from 15 to 19 October 2018 at the JUFA Hotel Almtal in Grünau im Almtal, Austria. The summer school is organised by PhD fellows of the Vienna Doctoral School CoBeNe (University of Vienna, Austria), which financially supports this event, and will be held in cooperation with the Konrad Lorenz Research Station and the Cumberland game park Grünau, where several Citizen Science (CS) projects are taking place. We will cover all relevant topics associated with CS: from the value of CS, planning a study, funding, designing apps and motivating citizens (i.e. communication and recruitment) to analysing big scattered data sets, presenting and publishing results.

For more information, please see the save the date flyer or visit: and

We are looking forward to welcoming you at the summer school!



 New Paper Out!

Foto: Maria Lankmaier

A review on the synergies and challenges of Citizen Science in wildlife biology was published in Ethology. The review presents several case studies which show that Citizen Science can be applied successfully to research projects in wildlife biology.

Publication in "Ethology":

Frigerio, D., Pipek, P., Kimmig, S., Winter, S., Melzheimer, J., Diblíková, L., et al. (2018). Citizen science and wildlife biology: Synergies and challenges. Ethology, 4, e6968.

 A Night at the Museum

The Konrad Lorenz Research Station participated in the "Lange Nacht der Forschung" in Vienna. This event aims at informing people about ongoing scientific projects. More than 1600 visitors came to learn about our project with Citizen Scientists on the habitat use of Northern Bald Ibises and behavioural observations on Greylag geese, Common ravens and Northern Bald Ibises in the Cumberland Wildlife ParkPhilipp J. Hummer from Spotteron (, who developed the App for our project, created a video which is available on Youtube.

Foto: Didone Frigerio

Foto: Verena Pühringer-Sturmayr

 The First Goslings Have Hatched!!

The first little goslings have hatched today and they already wander around in the Cumberland Gamepark with their proud parents.

 New Students!

We welcome our new students Merit Pokriefke from the University of Freiburg (Germany) and Alberto Mair from the University of Padova (Italy)! Merit is doing a comparative study for her Bachelor thesis on the egg weight of greylag geese and northern bald ibises. Albert works with the captive common ravens and investigates the social interactions of chicks in respect to clutch size.


The breeding season has started. While Heidi and Tom - one of our common raven couples - already have chicks in their nest, the greylag geese are still busy incubating the eggs. Due to the long-lasting snow cover, the northern bald ibises have started to lay eggs very late and in some cases still have to build their nests.

We wish you a Happy Easter and have fun with the easter egg hunt!

 Cambridge Science Festival

The school class 6a of the Körner Gymnasium Linz joined us for the Cambridge Science Festival from 23rd to 25th of March. The pupils presented their work within the project GRASS. More than 100 people came and were curious about the research at the KLF.

We thank the pupils for their great work and motivation at the festival!

 New Master Student!

We welcome our new Master student Sabrina Jungheim from the University of Vienna! Sabrina works with the European wolves at the Cumberland game park Grünau and will monitor the behavioural effects of transfering them to a new enclosure.

 Raven Food Calls Indicate Sender’s Age and Sex

A new study revealed that food-associated calls emitted by ravens to alert conspecifics to feeding sites varied in call duration and amplitude-related features according to sender's age and sex.

Publication in "Frontiers in Zoology":

Boeckle, M, Szipl, G., & Bugnyar, T. (2018). Raven food calls indicate sender's age and sex. Frontiers in Zoology, 15(3), 5.

 The Role of Storytelling In Science

Two researchers from Austria, among them Dr. Didone Frigerio from the Konrad Lorenz Research Station, visited the Department of Ecosystem Services in Leipzig with a COST Action grant for a 10-day workshop on the significance of storytelling for Citizen Science. An article about the workshop by Dr. Annett Richter can be found here.

 New Master Student!

We welcome our new Master student Ines Mayer from the University of Vienna! Ines will investigate the intentions behind food calling behaviour in free-ranging ravens!

 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

The authors show 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.

Publication in "Frontiers in Zoology":

Szipl, G., Ringler, E., Spreafico, M., & Bugnyar, T. (2017). Calls during agonistic interactions vary with arousal and raise audience attention in ravens. Frontiers in Zoology, 14(1), 57.

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

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.

Publication in "Journal of Ornithology":

Loth, A., Frigerio, D., Kotrschal, K., & Szipl, G. (2017). Differential responses to gosling distress calls in parental and non-parental Greylag Geese. Journal of Ornithology 159(2), 401-412.

 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)".