The Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology is a biological research institute for the study of animal behavior. Ethology (or Behavioral Biology) is an integrative field that addresses questions about how and why animals do what they do. Since spring 2015 it is also the headquaters of the Österreichischen Vogelwarte/Austrian Ornithological Centre (AOC).

Photo of the KLIVV premises



Johanna Painer wins the Ippen Young Scientist Award 2017

Wildlife specialist Johanna Painer was awarded the Ippen Young Scientist Award 2017. (Photo Vetmeduni Vienna)
Photo of veterinarian Johanna Painer with an anesthetised brown bear [Link 1]

The prize of the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians for Young Scientists was awarded to Johanna Painer in 2017. The wildlife veterinarian from the Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution of Vetmeduni Vienna received the prize of 1000 Euro for her previous achievements in the field of wildlife medicine. The award commemorates the renowned wildlife pathologist and co-founder of the international conference on diseases of zoo and wild animals, Rudolf Ippen.

Johanna Painer studied veterinary medicine at Vetmeduni Vienna and specialized in the interdisciplinary field of conservation medicine. Ultrasonography, mammalian anesthesia and reproductive management for large cats, ungulates, bears, primates and large herbivores are her main focus. She has been involved in many wildlife projects and is engaged in the fight against wildlfie crime and illegal animal trafficking.

She is currently working as a veterinarian and researcher in the veterinary team at the Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution of Vetmeduni Vienna. There she is responsible for a variety of veterinary, clinical and research-related tasks, concerning large carnivores, wild ungulates, wild boars, small winter beetles and birds. Her current research focus is on biomimicry of the kidneys of animals and humans. With a team of human and veterinary clinics as well as biologists, Painer tries to find synergies between veterinary and human medicine.

In remembrance of Rudolf Ippen

The Ippen Young Scientist Award [Link 2] is awarded by the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians at an annual conference. The prize is  presented to honour veterinarian and pioneer of wildlife pathology Dr. Rudolf Ippen, who died in 2009. The Award honours young scientists whose scientific output, particularly publications of the past 12 months, document the beginning of a promising career in wildlife veterinary science, conservation medicine, or zoo animal medicine.

(Web editor, 13 July 2017)


Vetmeduni Vienna Open House 2017 on 10 June

Many of our scientists and students were available for visitors to ask questions about wildlife or research projects. (Photo K. Svadlenak/Vetmeduni Vienna)
Photo of the Dept. 5 info stands at the Open House 2017 [Link 3]

Visitors were able to look behind the scenes at the Vetmeduni Vienna on the open house day. The two research institutes of the Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution presented a number of exciting wildlife-related topics, looking at displays and trying out various fund tasks at our information booths.   They could also go on a "speed date" with our researchers at the Science Café [Link 4] to find out about dromedaries and camels, colours in the animal kingdom, or "goblins of the night". In addition, young visitors could try their hands at drawing and making animal crafts with our creative team.

The whole programme  [Link 5]is available online.

(Web editor, 12 June 2017)


Smelly feet as a signaling device

Graphical abstract. The study demonstrates that brown bears do have pedal glands that produce specific and sexually dimorphic scent, and display behavioural patterns related to pedal marking. (Drawings by Katarzyna Chrząścik for Scientific Reports 7, Article Nr. 1052, Fig.4).
Graphic showing the study of bear feet odour [Link 6]

Brown bears in the wild walk long distances and are not territorial. Researchers from Poland, Spain and Austria have now discovered that while walking they spread smell signals via their foot prints. They discovered 26 different chemical components in the sweat glands of the bear paws, 6 of which were found exclusively in males. The bears also use a special gait from time to time, a kind of "marking dance", in which they produce deep footprints. The scientists conclude that the foot odor in the bear world serves for intra-species communication between individuals, the smell being an olfactory and the footprint itself a visual message. Chemical signals are also found in many other mammals. They can provide information about identity, gender, territory, social status, reproductive readiness, or group affiliation. In addition to their soles, bears also use other methods to leave their odor, e.g. tree rubbing. The marking behaviour was frequently observed, particularly during the mating season. It is therefore probable that bear foot odour is also used to give female bears information about the attractiveness of possible partners.

The study was conducted by Agnieszka Sergiel and Nuria Selva from the Polish Academy of Sciences. Johanna Painer from the Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution procured the bear samples for histological examination.

The article “Histological, chemical and behavioural evidence of pedal communication in brown bears [Link 7]” by Agnieszka Sergiel, Javier Naves, Piotr Kujawski, Robert Maślak, Ewa Serwa, Damián Ramos, Alberto Fernández-Gil, Eloy Revilla, Tomasz Zwijacz-Kozica, Filip Zięba, Johanna Painer & Nuria Selva was published in Scientific Reports .

You can watch a short video [Link 8] about the study.

(Web editor,  23 May 2017)


Departure of migratory birds from stopover sites is hormone-controlled

Migratory birds like the garden warbler are hormone-controlled. (Photo: Wolfgang Goymann)
Photo of a garden warbler on a branch of yellow blossoms [Link 9]

Migratory birds often stop along their long journeys to replenish their fat stores. The purpose of these stopovers – rest and refuelling – is clear. To date, however, it had been unclear which physiological signals triggered the birds’ decision to continue their flight. A team led by researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna has now identified, for the first time, the hormone ghrelin as a signal for the birds’ brains. Ghrelin, which is known to be an appetite-regulating hormone in humans, was measured at high levels in satiated garden warblers. Moreover, birds injected with additional ghrelin exhibited decreased appetite and increased the highly active state of migratory restlessness. The results, which were published in the journal PNAS, confirm the hormonal influence on avian migratory behaviour and could even lead to an improved understanding of eating disorders among humans.

The article “Ghrelin affects stopover decisions and food intake in a long-distance migrant [Link 10]” by Wolfgang Goymann, Sara Lupi, Hiroyuki Kaiya, Massimiliano Cardinale und Leonida Fusani was published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).

More information [Link 11]

(Web editor, 7 February 2017)


Major Urinary Proteins do not allow kin recognition in male mice

Urinary Proteins do not allow kin recognition. They seem to be expressed depending upon social context. (Photo: Kerstin Thonhauser/ Vetmeduni Vienna)
Photo of a pair of mice in the laboratory [Link 12]

Male house mice produce large quantities of proteins called ‘major urinary proteins’ or MUPs, which transport volatile pheromones to urine and stabilize their release from scent marks. Many studies have concluded that MUPs provide a unique individual signature or ‘barcode’ and thereby control individual and kin recognition. Researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna now found evidence that directly refutes this hypothesis. They discovered that the MUP genes of wild house mice show a surprising lack of variability, and rather than providing a stable barcode, individuals dynamically regulate the number of MUP excreted depending upon social context. These findings contradict the widely assumed hypothesis that MUPs control kin recognition.

The article "Diversity of major urinary proteins (MUPs) in wild house mice [Link 13]" by Michaela Thoß, Viktoria Enk, Hans Yu, Ingrid Miller, Kenneth C. Luzynski, Boglarka Balint, Steve Smith, Ebrahim Razzazi-Fazeli, and Dustin J. Penn was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The article "Regulation of highly homologous major urinary proteins in house mice quantified with label-free methods [Link 14]" by Viktoria Enk, Christian Baumann, Michaela Thoß, Kenneth C. Luzynski, Ebrahim Razzazi-Fazeli, and Dustin J. Penn appeared in the journal Molecular Biosystems.

More info [Link 15]

(Web editor, 7 December 2016)


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Seminar box

Every Wednesday during the university semester we hold the "Seminar at Wilhelminenberg", a colloquium where leading international scientists present their latest research results.

Seminar programme [Link 20]


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