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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).

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The Reproductive Advantages of Large Male Fish

Mosquitofish (Gambusia_affinis), (Photo: NOZO, via Wikimedia_Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)
Mosquitofish_Gambusia_affinis_Photo_NOZO_Wikimedia_Commons_CC BY-SA 3.0

In mosquitofish, of the genus Gambusia, male fish are smaller than females – sometimes only half the size. Biologists had previously assumed that smaller male mosquitofish had at least some reproductive advantages. Researchers from the transregional collaborative research centre NC3 at Bielefeld University, among them Bora Kim who is now doing research work at the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, have shown in a systematic review and meta-analysis that larger mosquitofish are actually more successful at reproduction: they can, for instance, better challenge their rivals; they produce more sperm; and they are preferred by female fish.

The article "Male size and reproductive performance in three species of livebearing fishes (Gambusia spp.): a systematic review and meta-analy-sis 8" by Bora Kim, Nicholas Patrick Moran, Klaus Reinhold, Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar was published in July in the Journal of Animal Ecology.


Avian fitness: birds go easy on their pectoral muscles

Common quails (Photo: G. Pola)
two quails in a bed of straw 9

A European research team led by Vetmeduni Vienna has discovered a protective mechanism in migratory birds. According to the study, common quails are able to specifically safeguard their pectoral muscles from oxidative stress during migration. The researchers believe this mechanism is an essential factor in the ability of migratory birds to successfully complete their long flights.

The article „Controlled expression of the migratory phenotype affects oxidative status in birds 10“ by Valeria Marasco, Manrico Sebastiano, David Costantini, Gianni Pola and Leonida Fusani was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.


More info 11

(Web editor, 30 March 2021)


The migration of Austrian blackcaps decoded

Blackcap equipped with a geolocator. Photo: W. Vogl/Vetmeduni Vienna
Blackcap in hand 12

The blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) is one of the most common songbird species in Europe - and also in Austria. In their area of ​​distribution, the small birds show a variety of different migration strategies. Ivan Maggini and Wolfgang Vogl, experts from the Austrian Ornithological Centre (Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, Vetmeduni Vienna), examined these migration strategies in cooperation with colleagues from Germany (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön) using geolocators, which were attached to the backs of birds. During the study, the researchers found that some blackcap populations over-winter in the UK. It seems that blackcaps discovered the more favorable climatic conditions in Great Britain very quickly and adapted their migration behavior accordingly within a short period of time.

According to Maggini and Vogl, this study shows how the common blackcap helps to understand the flexibility and adaptability of migrating bird species to rapidly changing environmental conditions.

The article “Individual variability and versatility in an eco-evolutionary model of avian migration 13” by Delmore K. et al. was published inProceedings of the Royal Society B veröffentlicht.

More info 14

(Web editor, 22 March 2021)


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