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).

 [Link 1] [Link 2] [Link 3] [Link 4] [Link 5] [Link 6] [Link 7]



New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom

Biomimetics offers an innovative approach to solving human problems by imitating physiological strategies of, for example, bears. (Photo: Georg Rauer)
Brown bear standing in a river [Link 8]

The field of biomimetics offers an innovative approach to solving human problems by imitating strategies found in nature. Medical research could also benefit from biomimetics, as a group of international experts from various fields, including a wildlife veterinarian and wildlife ecologists from the Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution of the Vetmeduni Vienna, point out using the example of chronic kidney disease. In future research, they intend to study the mechanisms that protect the muscles, organs and bones of certain animals during extreme conditions such as hibernation.

The article “Novel treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease: insights from the animal kingdom [Link 9]” by Peter Stenvinkel, Johanna Painer, Makoto Kuro-o, Miguel Lanaspa, Walter Arnold, Thomas Ruf, Paul G. Shiels and Richard J. Johnson was published in Nature Reviews.

More info [Link 10]

(Web editor, 19 February 2018)


Third bird ringers´conference

The team of the Austrian Ornithological Centre with Prof. Bairlein (Photo: Stefan Graf)
(Click picture to enlarge)
Team photo of the AOC with Prof. Bairlein [Link 11]

Great guest lectures and numerous participants

On Saturday, January 27, 2018, the Austrian Ornithological Center (AOC) [Link 12] invited for the third time to the annual bird ringers conference. Over 40 bird ringers and interested people from all over Austria took part in the event in Vienna and enjoyed a varied program. A special highlight was the guest lecture by Prof. Franz Bairlein, director of the  Institute of Avian Research/Ornithological Station Helgoland (IAR) [Link 13] and experienced bird ringer, who opened the conference with an impressive lecture on the migration of the Wheatear. In addition to presentations of the Austrian Ornithological Institute about their activities, programs and concepts, some bird ringers also presented their current projects. The event also gave budding and experienced bird ringers plenty of time to network with national and international colleagues, representatives of various nature conservation departments and members of BirdLife Austria [Link 14].

The team of the Austrian Ornithological Institute would like to thank the guest lecturers and especially the many participants for the successful event!

(Web editor, 6 February 2018)


Why some fish raise their offspring together

A swarm of cichlids in Lake Tanganyika (Photo Stefanie Schwamberger)
A swarm of cichilids in Lake Tanganyika [Link 15]

In a dangerous environment, people, but also other animals, such as fish show cooperative behavior. This includes the care of their offspring. The young scientist Filipa Cunha Saraiva (27) investigates the evolutionary basis of so-called cooperative breeding. In this type of social system, in addition to the parents, other group members look after the young. At the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology the researcher investigates under what ecological circumstances two cichlid species from Lake Tanganyika breed cooperatively vs."traditionally" (only the parents care for the young). Different levels of the hormone oxytocin in the observed species could play a role here. The results of this research could also help to better understand the origin of cooperative systems in mammals.

Article on the subject in the Austrian paper Der Standard (in German) [Link 16]

(Web editor, 16 January 2017)


What "songs" mice sing depends on the recipient

House mice adapt their songs to the gender of the recipient (Photo K. Thonhauser)
House mice in the lab [Link 17]

Domestic mice emit ultrasound vocalizations that are surprisingly complex and have bird voice characteristics. Their functions are not well understood. Previous studies have provided mixed evidence as to whether there are gender differences in the mouse song, although the vocalisation rate or other characteristics may depend on whether potential recipients are from the same or the opposite sex. Researchers at the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology recorded the songs of adult house mice and compared the vocalizations of males and females in response to a "stimulus mouse" of the same or the opposite sex. They found high individual variation, and no overall difference in gender vocalization rates, but mice sang at a higher rate and higher frequencies when compared to mice of the opposite sex. The researchers also observed a tendency to higher amplitudes in males when presented with a male stimulus. These results suggest that mice modulate the rate and frequency of vocalisations depending on the sex of potential recipients.Sarah M. Zala, Doris Reitschmidt, Anton Noll, Peter Balazs and Dustin J. Penn published the article "Sex-dependent modulation of ultrasonic vocalizations in house mice" (Mus musculus musculus) in December 2017 in the journal PLOS One.

Author interview in PLOS Research News [Link 18]

(Web editor, 19 December 2017)


Lower Austrian Nature Conservation Prize 2017 goes to Dr. Herbert Hoi and his team

The Lower Austrian Nature Conservation Award 2017 went to a team headed by Dr. Ing. Herbert Hoi, who has been researching the topic of "Birds as Bioindicators for Environmental Change" with female and male students.
Group photo of the winners of the nature protection prize and the awarders [Link 19]

On November 22, 2017, the Lower Austrian Nature Conservation Prize 2017 was awarded to Dr. Ing. Herbert Hoi and researchers from his team, Mag. Margarethe Mahr, Mag. Katharina Mahr and Mag. Eva Maria Sauter. The province of Lower Austria awarded ten such prizes in 2017. The Lower Austrian Nature Conservation Prize is awarded every three years in special memory of Josef Schöffel, who prevented the deforestation of the Vienna Woods in 1870 and made the population aware of the necessity of nature conservation. The award recognizes outstanding achievements for the protection of the natural landscapes of Lower Austria and for deepening the understanding of the public of the recreational value of native ecosystems, with a special focus on/or participation of children and adolescents. Within the framework of the Sparkling Science [Link 20] programme, Hoi and his group carried out long-term large-scale data collection of birds as indicators of environmental change with young students. Among other things, it was investigated whether climate change affects the food supply for our native birds; and what role the synchronization between predator and prey plays and what role the climate plays in that. The researchers also investigated whether birds are suitable as bio-indicators of environmental pollution - i.e. whether pollution plays a role in feather coloration. Participants included students from the school  PG/PRG Sacré Coeur Pressbaum.
 [Link 21]

More info on the prize (in German)
 [Link 22]

More info on the project (in German) [Link 23]

(Web editor, 27 November 2017)


A-MUD: a method for automatically detecting mouse song

 [Link 24]

Mice produce a remarkable repertoire of vocalizations across five octaves, which they emit during mating and other contexts. Vocalizations of adult mice are highly complex and have features of bird song, but their songs are emitted in the ultrasonic range and are inaudible for humans. Analyses of mice song can provide important information about their social behaviour and for research into neuropsychiatric disorders. Previous studies have usually analysed such recordings manually, which is very time-consuming. A team of researchers led by Sarah Zala of the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ecology at Vetmeduni Vienna, and researchers from the Acoustics Research Institute have now developed a method to automatically detect mouse vocalizations. Their method is published in PLOS ONE and freely available for scientific use.

The article "Automatic mouse ultrasound detector (A-MUD): A new tool for processing rodent vocalizations [Link 25]“ by Sarah Zala, Doris Reitschmid, Anton Noll, Peter Balazs and Dustin J. Penn was published in PLOS ONE.

More info [Link 26]

(Web editor, 8 September 2017)


News Archive... [Link 27]



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Seminar at Wilhelminenberg

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 31]


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