Golden Eagle Tagging Season

The Golden Eagle Tagging Season has started, where we aim to equip 6 more juvenile Golden Eagles in Austria with GPS-tags. We are collaborating with the Max-Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and the Swiss Ornithological Institute to understand juvenile dispersal and flight behaviour based on build-in accelerometer sensors. The last mission was in Lassinbachtal, part of the Wildnisgebiet Dürrenstein, where postdoc Andrew Katsis accompanied Petra and Shane Sumasgutner to assist with the data collection and safety on the mountain.

climbing route on the rock, man with helmet waiting at the end

young golden eagle in the nest

close-up of a golden eagle with a gps transmitter on its back. Wing is held outstretched by a human hand

2 people with large backpacks and helmets on a hiking trail

 Welcome Lennart

young man hiking

We welcome our new intern Lennart Jungkunst from Stuttgart. Lennart will start studying biology next winter semester and is currently supporting us with the monitoring of the greylag geese and the cavity-nesting project.

 Many visitors at the "Lange Nacht der Forschung"

Our stand at the "Lange Nacht der Forschung" at UBB was very well attended last Friday. Many thanks for the numerous visitors and for taking part!

stand with scientists and visitors

Picture: Marton Zsolt

stand with scientists and visitors

Picture: Marton Zsolt

stand with scientists and visitors

Picture: Marton Zsolt

 Welcome Rosmarijn

porträt of a young woman

We welcome our new master's student Rosmarijn Ernsten who is studying Biology at Wageningen University and Research. For her MSc thesis she will monitor the Common Sandpiper at the pebble shores along the Alm river and create a methodology on how to monitor the riverine birds with a thermal imaging drone.

 Welcome Danyang

Junge Frau mit Graugans-Gössel auf dem Arm

We welcome our new master's student Danyang Shi who is studying at Wageningen University and Research. For her MSc research practice Danyang is at the KLF to investigate the ontogeny of agonistic behavior and aggression in greylag geese goslings.

 Welcome Amit

portrait of a young man

We welcome our new master's student Amit Kumar who is studying Forest Sciences at the University of Padua, currently on Erasmus exchange at Wageningen University and Research. For his Master's thesis Amit is at the KLF to monitor the nest-box bird population and investigate the impact of traffic noise on the heart rate in Great tits.

 Welcome Caitie

woman with greylag geese in the background

We welcome our new volunteer Caitie Adams. Caitie is from Australia and will be at the KLF for a 5-month internship, participating in the monitoring of greylag goose behaviour.

 Welcome Edoardo

young man with falcon on hand

We welcome our new master's student Edoardo Bonte who is studying Environmental Sustainability at the University of Padua. For his Master's thesis Edoardo will monitor the nest-box bird population and investigate the impact of traffic noise on parental care in Great tits.

 Floreana Island ecological restoration project

people in a circle, photo of their heads from below

woman with songbird in hand

KLF research team helps Darwin's finches fly home after seven months in captivity. The finches were kept safe as part of the ambitious Floreana Island ecological restoration project on the Galapagos archipelago. In this interview, Sonia Kleindorfer gives an overview of the project, which provides hope for the future as many people work together to restore ecosystems.

https://www.darwinfoundation.org/en/news/all-news-stories/qa-with-biologist-prof-sonia-kleindorfer/

https://www.instagram.com/p/C5oIq_IpV1h/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igsh=MzRlODBiNWFlZA

 Welcome Francesca

young woman holding a songbird in her hand

We welcome our new master's student Francesca Castellazzi who is studying Forest and Nature Conservation at Wageningen University (Netherlands). For her Master's thesis Francesca will monitor the nest-box bird population and the investigate the impact of traffic noise on begging behavior of Great tits.

 Congratulations to Carina Nebel: BioOne Ambassador Award

Eagle researcher meets Eagle hunter: gently, a feather is plucked from the breast of the falconry Golden Eagle. This procedure is harmless to the Eagle and one feather per bird is enough for science

Picture: Megan Murgatroyd & Petra Sumasgutner

Congratulations to Carina Nebel for winning the BioOne Ambassador Award for advancing our understanding of an important flagship species, the Golden Eagle, by combining scientific methods with cultural traditions.

In the picture: Eagle researcher meets Eagle hunter: gently, a feather is plucked from the breast of the falconry Golden Eagle. This procedure is harmless to the Eagle and one feather per bird is enough for science.

Genetic Analysis of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) from the Mongol-Altai: A Hotspot of Diversity and Implications for Global Phylogeography. Carina Nebel; Elisabeth Haring; Megan Murgatroyd; Shane C. Sumasgutner; Sundev Gombobaatar; Petra Sumasgutner; Frank E. Zachos Journal of Raptor Research (2023) 57 (3): 359–374. https://doi.org/10.3356/JRR-22-57

 New Alumna: Avila Bold

yound woman with a raven on the arm

Congratulations to Avila on her graduation! Avila has worked on “The ontogeny of antipredator behaviour in common ravens". The thesis was supervised by Ass.-Prof. Dr. Petra Sumasgutner (University of Vienna) and co-supervised by Silvia Damini MSc (University of Vienna) and Prof. Dr. Thorsten Stoeck (Rheinland-Pfälzische Technische Universität).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 Welcome Antoine

student with a songbird in hand

Antoine studied "Ecology and Evolution" at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon and the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle and is at the KLF for a 5-month internship before starting his PhD. Antoine will work on the ontogeny of calls in greylag geese.

 Happy Easter

two eggs and an ibis chick in a nest

Picture: Juliette Boby

Happy Easter and wonderful holidays!

 New Paper: When Parasites Damage Birds’ Beaks, the Whole Environment Can Change

Darwin’s finches of the Galápagos Islands have a parasite called the avian vampire fly, which lay its eggs inside bird nests. When the eggs hatch, the immature flies enter the nestlings’ beaks via their nostrils and feed on their blood and tissue. The few nestlings that survive tend to have deformed beaks. We wanted to find out how this beak damage changes a finch’s body condition and feeding behavior once it leaves the nest. This study was conducted in the Galápagos Islands over 10 years. We monitored four species of Darwin’s finches and measured their body conditions. Overall, adults with damaged beaks were in poorer condition and changed their feeding behavior. This study shows that parasites can have long-term effects on the feeding behavior of their hosts.
Science for kids, edited by kids - In the journal Frontiers for Young Minds, scientists write manuscripts that are reviewed by a panel of young people. Each Frontiers for Young Minds author must obtain the approval of young reviewers before a publication can be posted online. These reviewers are between 8 and 15 years old and work with a science mentor. Together, they provide feedback to the authors to make the articles as clear and interesting as possible before they are published and posted online.

Publication in Frontiers for young minds:
Frigerio D, Colombelli-Négrel D, Common LK, Katsis AC and Kleindorfer S (2024) When Parasites Damage Birds’ Beaks, the Whole Environment Can Change. Front. Young Minds 12:1272047. doi: 10.3389/frym.2024.1272047

drawing of 2 birds in a tree

Picture: Frontiers for young minds

 New Alumnus: Jakob Schorn

portrait of a young man

Congratulations to Jakob Schorn on his graduation! Jakob has worked on "Species-diversity and -dominance among secondary hole nesting birds depending 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 (University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 Welcome Martin

Man with binocular in the mountains

We welcome our new Master's student Martin Reichebner. He is studying biology and environmental studies to become a teacher and is fascinated by all kinds of birds. He is particularly interested in raptors. For his master's thesis project, Martin is working with movement data from Australian Nankeen Kestrels and will visualize them.

 Welcome Rita

Young woman with raven sitting on her arm

We welcome our new master's student Rita Götz who is studying Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition (Master) at the University of Vienna. For her Master's thesis Rita will investigate if relationship quality affects cooperation in common raven (Corvus corax) pairs during the breeding season.

 Welcome Bram

young man, bird sitting on shoulder

We welcome our new master's student Bram van Beek who is studying Behavioural & Cognitive Neuroscience (BCN) at the University of Groningen. For his Master's thesis Bram will focus on how social context and the strength of relationships affect solving a string-pulling task in free-flying common ravens (Corvus corax).

 New Alumnus: Egon Lind

Congratulations to Egon on his graduation! Egon has worked on “Seasonal and cohort-specific survival rates of common raven in an anthropogenic alpine environment”, and thus completed the MSc program Conservation Biology and Biodiversity Management at the University of Vienna. The thesis was supervised by Prof. Dr. Thomas Bugnyar and Ass.-Prof. Dr. Petra Sumasgutner (University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 New paper: Elevational differences in territory defence response in native forest birds

bird in a tree

Picture: Aviceda at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0

The aim of this study is to examine the response of Fijian forest bird species to conspecific intruders using playback of previously recorded songs along an elevational gradient. We address two questions: Do different foraging guilds in Fiji’s forest birds show different patterns of territorial defence behaviour towards conspecific intruders? Secondly, do Fiji’s forest birds show stronger territorial defence at higher elevations? This study provides first insights into response to conspecifics in Fiji’s forest birds that can be explored in relation to avian behaviour also in the context of human activity, human disturbance and threats to the persistence of birds across elevational gradients.

Publication in New Zealand Journal of Zoology
Naikatini, A.N., Keppel, G., Brodie, G. and Kleindorfer, S., 2024. Elevational differences in territory defence response in native (endemic and non-endemic) forest birds on Viti Levu Island, Fiji. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, pp.1-16.

 New paper: Saving Birds From Extinction by Discovering Their Habitats

The authors investigated what it takes to prevent a species from going extinct. Aside from ensuring there is adequate habitat and making sure the species is safe, knowledge about an animal’s behavior is key for conservation management. Which sites do these birds use for foraging and roosting? Do they move alone or in groups, and are there recurring patterns to their movements? These are just some of the questions we tried to answer in our study. We monitored the movements of 32 free-flying northern bald ibises over 4 years, by equipping the birds with GPS transmitters. We found that our birds are pretty predictable in their habits and that they preferably fly along valleys. Being aware of such preferences is important when planning to reintroduce new colonies into the wild.

Publication in "Frontiers for young minds":
Frigerio D, Kleindorfer S, Krejci J, Schuster R, Kotrschal K, Loretto MC and Puehringer-Sturmayr V (2024) Saving Birds From Extinction by Discovering Their Habitats. Front. Young Minds. 12:1210462. doi: 10.3389/frym.2023.1210462

drawing of a bird with a gps tracker and a student observing with a binocular

Picture: FYM

 New paper on the buzz vocalizations of Darwin's tree finches

Small bird held in a hand

Signals of aggression may potentially reduce the fitness costs of conflict during agonistic interactions if they are honest. Here we examined whether the ‘buzz’ vocalization in two species of Darwin’s finches, the small tree finch, Camarhynchus parvulus, and the critically endangered medium tree finch, C. pauper, found in Floreana Island, Galápagos Archipelago, is a signal of aggression. Specifically, we assessed three criteria for aggressive signalling (context, predictive, and response criteria) in an observational study and a playback experiment. the results support the aggressive signal hypothesis for buzz vocalizations, although future studies are needed to understand the evolution and development of this interesting signal.

Publication in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society:
Çağlar Akçay, Diane Colombelli-Négrel, Sonia Kleindorfer, Buzzes are used as signals of aggressive intent in Darwin’s finches, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2024;, blad152, doi.org/10.1093/biolinnean/blad152

 New book on Greylag Geese! By Sonia Kleindorfer

In this book, behavioural biologist Sonia Kleindorfer, who heads the Konrad Lorenz Research Centre in Grünau im Almtal, takes us into the world of animals that were once revered as god-like. The courageous Triton, the influential Leia, the shy Edes, Dorothea, who was rebellious as a gosling but is now particularly gentle, or Ivan, the Casanova: with passion and the latest findings from her research, Kleindorfer tells us about life with the greylag geese in the Almtal valley - and about a new model for thinking about biodiversity in a world that could benefit from extremely vigilant herbivores that stabilise ecosystems.

https://www.brandstaetterverlag.com/buch/die-erstaunliche-welt-der-graugaense/

 Superb fairy-wren fieldwork season in South Australia

newly hatched chick

Our superb fairy-wren fieldwork season in South Australia comes to an end today. We share a picture of the final hatchling of the 2023/24 season. Thank you to Lauren Common, Vicky Austin, and Diane Colombelli-Négrel.

Here a link to a paper that will be in print in February!

 

 

 Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Greylag Goose Picture in a Christmas frame

The team of the Konrad Lorenz Research Center wishes you Merry Christmas, relaxing holidays and all the best for the New Year!

 New Alumnus: Arnout Lindeman

Congratulations to Arnout on his graduation! Arnout has worked on “Do ravens seize the day or chicken out? Foraging decisions of wild birds in unfamiliar and unpredictable environments”, and thus completed the MSc program at Wageningen University. The thesis was supervised by Ass.-Prof. Dr. Alexander Kotrschal (Wageningen University), Prof. Dr. Thomas Bugnyar and Ass.-Prof. Dr. Petra Sumasgutner (University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 Welcome Ilona

Portrait of a woman in winter, scope on tripod in the background

We welcome our new master's student Ilona Koskela. Ilona studies ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Helsinki and her main interests are in the field of behavioral ecology. She is particularly fascinated with intelligence and sociality among animals. For her master's thesis project, Ilona is studying the social bonds of free-ranging non-breeder ravens.

 Celebration! 50 years of animal behaviour research! 50th Nobel Prize Anniversary Ethology Colloquium!

3 people looking out from behind a theater curtain

On 12 December 1973, Konrad Lorenz, Karl von Frisch and Nikolaas Tinbergen were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1973 "for their discoveries concerning organization and elicitation of individual and social behaviour patterns". On 12 December 2023, we celebrated this 50-year anniversary with a special Nobel Prize Anniversary Ethology Colloquium held at the University of Vienna Biology Building. Three internationally renowned animal behaviour researchers, Prof. Amanda Seed, Prof. Megan Crofoot, and Prof. Lars Chitka, inspired a broad audience with their research into surprising and marvellous patterns of animal complexity. The poster session sparked discussion, and the well-attended gathering contributed further celebratory moments on this special day. The event was organised and hosted by the Konrad Lorenz Research Center for Behavior and Cognition and the Department of Behavioral and Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna.

 About the KLF Open Days ....

To celebrate the KLF's 50th anniversary, we had our open days last weekend. We showed photos of scientific highlights and presented our video "Almtal Anecdotes" with Jane Goodall, Lorenz grandson Riccardo Draghi-Lorenz and people from the Almtal who remember Konrad Lorenz. We would like to thank everyone for the visit, the nice conversations and the interest in our work!

KLF building in winter

Picture: Mariia Klymenko

Schild mit Graugänen im Winter

Picture: Mariia Klymenko

Besucher*innen an der KLF

Picture: Mariia Klymenko

Besucher*innen an der KLF

Picture: Mariia Klymenko

Besucher*innen an der KLF

Picture: Mariia Klymenko

Besucher*innen an der KLF

Picture: Mariia Klymenko

 50 years of KLF: welcome to our open days December 2nd and 3rd

We invite all interested people to the "Open Days" on December 2nd and 3rd! Drop by, we look forward to your visit!

Tip: also visit the atmospheric Christmas market in the neighboring wildlife park!
https://wildpark.at/veranstaltungskategorie

 

 

 KLF Open Science Center

Drawing of a greylag goose with open science center lettering

The KLF Open Science Center is to be established as a center for cooperation between science, education, business and society in Grünau im Almtal in Upper Austria. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Konrad Lorenz Research Center, we want to establish the Open Science Center by redesigning the former "Wirtschaftshof" in the Cumberland Gamepark.

The initiative underlines the long-standing cooperation between many players in the valley! For 50 years, the partnership between the Konrad Lorenz Research Center and the Cumberland Wildlife Park has grown. Each year, KLF staff members lead summer science programs for children, create guided tours with a scientific focus, and engage the community through award-winning citizen science programs.

The Open Science Center will promote education, communication and exchange around science-based thinking about biodiversity goals. We want to establish the Almtal region as a pioneer in Austria for cooperation between science, education, business and society.

More information:
https://klf-opensciencecenter.univie.ac.at/

 

 

 New Alumna: Rebekka Kreikenbohm

Woman hanging on climbing rope, with climbing equipment, smiling

Congratulations to Rebekka Kreikenbohm on her graduation! Rebekka defended her Master Thesis on “Effects of weather and climate on Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) breeding performance in the Northern Limestone Alps”, completing her Master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Management at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. In her work, she found that cold weather with high precipitation in winter and spring can have a positive effect on the breeding performance of Golden Eagles. The thesis was supervised by Assistant Prof. Dr. Petra Sumasgutner, Dr. Matthias Loretto und Prof. Dr. Sonia Kleindorfer.

We wish you all the best for the future!

 

 

 50th Nobel Prize Anniversary Ethology Colloquium

In honour of the 50th anniversary of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded in 1973 to Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch for their pioneering contributions to the field of Ethology, the Konrad Lorenz Research Center invites you to the "50th Nobel Prize Anniversary Ethology Colloquium".
This event serves as a tribute to the lasting impact of the pioneering work in ethology that Lorenz, Tinbergen and von Frisch accomplished during their lifetimes.

Date and Venue:
Tuesday, December 12, 15:00 - 19:30, University of Vienna Biology Building (UBB) HS1

Event Highlights
The 50th Nobel Prize Anniversary Ethology Colloquium promises an engaging and enlightening afternoon, featuring three keynote lectures:

  • Lorenz Lecture: Presented by Amanda Seed, University of St Andrews
  • Tinbergen Lecture: Presented by Margaret Crofoot, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior
  • von Frisch Lecture: Presented by Lars Chittka, Queen Mary University of London

Each of these keynote lectures will last 40-45 minutes, followed by a 15-minute discussion, and will provide a deep dive into the fascinating world of ethology. In addition to the lectures, the event will feature a poster session, providing a platform for students and research labs to showcase their latest findings. It's an ideal opportunity to network with peers, exchange ideas and foster collaborations.

 

 

 Welcome Jonas

Portrait of a young man

We welcome our new master's student Jonas Lesigang who has, after completing a masters in psychology, also discovered an interest in biology. For his Master's thesis Jonas wants to find out more about different call types - departure calls, recruitment calls, and contact calls in Greylag geese.

 Online seminar series: African Birds of Prey - Warriors of the Sky

Petra and Shane Sumasgutner have been participating in the "African Birds of Prey - Warriors of the Sky" online seminar series, organised by Share Screen Arica (https://sharescreenafrica.org/) and KaiNav Conservation Foundation (https://www.kainavconservation.org/index.html). The presented an episode on "Hunters all around you - Urban Raptors of Africa".
This 16 weeks series was aimed to bring raptors to the fore of many people's attention, and can be re-watched on the youtube channel:The ShareScreen YouTube Channel: All your talks are here
Each talk had at least 60 people following live, some topped at 120! Each talk was also accopanied by  total of 50 copyright free posters for classrooms and birding clubs. They can be downloaded from the webpage.

 New paper: A mother’s lullaby lays the foundations for learning in songbird embryos

Female songbird in front of a nest

This study puts mothers center stage in the story of when vocal learning begins. Across eight songbird species in the Maluridae group, an ancient lineage from Australasia where vocal learning first evolved some 60 mya, female vocal tutoring starts early. The calls of fairywren mothers, produced while incubating their eggs, contain a signature element. Embryos learn this signature element inside the egg and, after hatching, produce it as their begging call. Furthermore, females that called more slowly to their embryos produced offspring whose begging calls sounded more like their mum—they had a better learning outcome.
 Humans are also a vocal learning species. Could our favorite lullaby be laying the foundations for more learning than we think? 

Publication in The American Naturalist:
Kleindorfer S, Brouwer L, Hauber ME, Evans CE, Teunissen N, Peters A, Louter M, Webster M, Katsis AC, Sulloway FJ, Common LK, Austin VA, Colombelli-Négrel D (in press). Nestling begging calls resemble maternal vocal signatures when mothers call slowly to embryos. American Naturalist. https://doi.org/10.1086/728105

 Faculty Event: Honor for Dr. Josef Hemetsberger

Lineup of 10 people in a lecture hall

Picture: Faculty of Life Sciences

On the occassion of his upcoming retirement, Dr. Josef Hemetsberger, Vice Head of the KLF, was honored for his many years of service to the  Faculty of Life Sciences at the Faculty party on October 12 at UBB. We would like to express our appreciation and congratulations.

 Film about animals breeding in and on buildings in Vienna

A kestrel feeding a young one with a mouse

Picture: Franz Kerschbaum

 

The focus of the film is on species that breed in and on buildings, such as the kestrel, their habitat and their fascinating way of life. Petra Sumasgutner, speaking as head of the Vienna Kestrel Project, talks about the ability of kestrels to use urban habitat and the benefit to society of being able to observe a top predator right outside our window.

Download film:
https://youtu.be/7XaxIgvIvzs

 Welcome Mariia

Young woman, two greylag geese next to her

We welcome our new master's student Mariia Klymenko who is studying Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition (Master) at the University of Vienna. For her Master's thesis Mariia is observing components of relationship quality in greylag geese monogamous pair bonds. At the KLF she is working as a student assistant.

 Welcome Alina

Young woman in front of mountain landscape

We welcome our new master's student Alina Döhring who is studying Zoology at the University of Vienna. For her Master's thesis Alina will focus on the individual responses of greylag geese to their mirror image, with an emphasis on personality and object permanence.

 New paper on the effects of food-based enrichment on zoo animals

How can enclosures and aviaries in a wildlife park or zoo be designed or equipped to address animal welfare as well as visitor interests and educational opportunities? The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of different enrichment activities in the enclosures of brown bears, pine martens, domestic ferrets and golden jackals on the enclosure use, behavior, and visibility to visitors at the Cumberland gamepark Grünau. We found that enrichment influenced enclosure use, activity patterns, and visibility of the animals. However, further studies should control for the specific role of the factors involved. Our study represents one of the first explorations of food-based enrichment in rather understudied species.

Publication in Peer J:
Puehringer-Sturmayr V, Fiby M, Bachmann S, Filz S, Grassmann I, Hoi T, Janiczek C, Frigerio D. 2023. Effects of food-based enrichment on enclosure use and behavioral patterns in captive mammalian predators: a case study from an Austrian wildlife park. PeerJ 11:e16091

brown bear in an aviary

pine marten in an aviary

wolves in an aviary

 New paper on Citizen Scientist engagement for conservation

A songbird in the hand of a scientist

Picture: Sonia Kleindorfer

Nest of a songbird with two eggs in it

Picture: Sonia Kleindorfer

Social and affective empathy may generate future conservation benefits as the consequence of transformed personal attitudes. In this study, we investigated changes in attitudes and intended behaviours about the plight of woodland songbirds before and after participation in science activities and direct interaction with scientists monitoring avian biodiversity in the Mount Lofty Ranges (MLR) in South Australia. A total of 55 anonymous adult participants were invited to join a survey before and after participating in two three-hour workshops on avian science plus acoustic data collection. Comparing survey results before and after the experience, there were significant shifts in self-reported ‘good’ knowledge about woodland songbirds; increased concern about the conservation status of woodland birds; increased concern about cessation of songbird research; and an increased interest to play a role in songbird conservation. Further investigations could aim to elucidate the mechanisms for shifts in attitudes that occur together with experiencing nature. In general, this small-scale study provides evidence that nature-based science activities can represent valuable hands-on experience of science and may contribute to conservation outcomes by fostering environmental awareness and self-reported aims for involvement.

Publication in Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia:
Didone Frigerio, Alena G. Hohl, Verena Puehringer-Sturmayr, Diane Colombelli-Négrel & Sonia Kleindorfer (2023) A direct personal experience of science and nature changes intended behaviours for conservation, Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, DOI: 10.1080/03721426.2023.2264366

 New paper on facial recognition in Greylag geese

greylag goose feeds on a meadow in front of a photo of a goose

portrait of a greylag goose

Greylag Goose faces are individually distinct -- says AI and new research! Using 2D photos in meadows, greylag geese spent more time feeding next to a photo of their partner and, if anything, showed a threatening posture towards a photo of themselves. Konrad Lorenz could famously name each Greylag Goose in ‘his’ flock from a photograph. Confirming this anecdotal observation, we developed facial recognition software that can reliably (~ 97% accuracy) assign a goose face to a goose ID within a database, using bill morphology normalized during photo preparation. To explore conspecific detection of individuality cues, we erected life-size photos of geese and measured subjects’ responses to photos of themselves (unfamiliar goose), their partner, and another flock mate. Geese displayed significantly greater affiliative response to photos of their partners, providing evidence that geese can use two-dimensional images as cues to determine social category (partner/non-partner) and/or individual-level recognition. Our methods provide novel approaches to automatically detect and monitor geese and to test avian cognition. Our approach may also create new opportunities for species monitoring approaches more generally using photographic images and citizen-science engagement.

Publication in Journal of Ornithology:
Kleindorfer S, Heger B, Tohl D, Frigerio D, Hemetsberger J, Fusani L, Fitch WT, Colombelli-Négrel D (2023). Cues to individuality in greylag goose faces: algorithmic discrimination and behavioral field tests. Journal of Ornithology https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-023-02113-4

 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. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00114-023-01874-5

 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 https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-023-03372-0

 New Alumna: 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. https://doi.org/10.3356/JRR-22-57

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. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-38493-z

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. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-023-02093-5

 New Alumna: Gabriela Bernatovic

woman with a cap, raven next to her on the ground

Congratulations to Gabriela on her graduation! Gabriela has worked on “How does family size affect foraging success and agonistic behavior within a non-breeding group of free-flying ravens”, and thus completed the MSc program Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition at the University of Vienna. The thesis was supervised by Prof. Dr. Thomas Bugnyar and Ass.-Prof. Dr. Petra Sumasgutner (University of Vienna).

We wish you all the best for the future!

 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: https://doi.org/10.1163/1568539X-bja10224

 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. doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2023.105963

 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. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/acd073

 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.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2023.1034941

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):
https://biologicum-almtal.univie.ac.at/

 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: doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2023.02.008

 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. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16645

 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: https://doi.org/10.20938/afo40049055

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 Alumna: 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). https://doi.org/10.18272/reo.v8i2.2477

 

 

 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. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2022.1062864

 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. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13837

 

 

 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 Alumna: 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 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-022-02935-y

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. doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2022.08.015

 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. doi.org/10.7717/peerj.14011

 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 Alumna: 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). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40462-022-00335-4

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:

biologicum-almtal.univie.ac.at/biologicum-almtal/

Symposium language:

German

 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.  https://www.doi.org/10.1017/S0959270922000053

 

 

 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 Alumna: 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 Alumna: 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 alumna: 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 doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2022.104465

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. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.14061

 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 (https://www.paoc15.org/) 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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2022.03.075

 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. https://doi.org/10.15560/18.3.451

 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, https://doi.org/10.1071/PC21039https://doi.org/10.1071/PC21039

 

 

 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.

Video:
wandelklima.at/verenas-waldis-der-wert-der-vielfalt/

 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. https://doi.org/10.3390/d14030223

 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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2022.01.004

 

 

 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.

Application:
www.jugendumwelt.at

 

 

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.

https://www.arrcn2022.com/registration-abstract-submission.html

 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. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8378

 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: https://peerj.com/blog/post/115284885148/peerj-award-winners-7th-bio-logging-symposium/

 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 alumna: 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: gudrun.gegendorfer@univie.ac.at

 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.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00442-021-05033-3

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.

W https://biologicum-almtal.univie.ac.at/

 

 

 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:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-95011-9

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.

https://tv.orf.at/program/orf2/20210513/962380001/

 

 

 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 | www.spotteron.net | 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".

 Congratulations!

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!

Link: you-and-the-owls.webnode.com

 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. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-020-01824-2

 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.

Excursions

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.

Links:

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.

 ORF-1-Freistunde

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).

Links:

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 (www.kloofconservancy.org.za)

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 BirdScience.net.

 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:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spotteron.forschenimalmtal&fbclid=IwAR3TQ6RKXcMucmuaw3SewiQHvIIGd5E4m6OCl43ywTX-w8-9JYdUsI1OV1E

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/forschen-im-almtal-spotteron/id1292290494

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.

twitter.com/KLF_UniVienna

 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)
Email: petra.sumasgutner@univie.ac.at

 

 

 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. doi.org/10.1111/jeb.13588

 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). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-019-06558-6