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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A sense of beauty among animals

The beautiful feather display of a male peacock impresses both female peacocks and humans (Photo Venkat Mangudi, Wikimedia Commons)
Portrait photo of a male peacock displaying his feathers 8

Not only people, but animals too, have a sense of aesthetics. In a current WWTF project, Leonida Fusani from the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology of the Vetmeduni Vienna and the Department of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna and fellow researchers are investigating the role that beauty perceptions play in humans and animals in evolution. For example, birds of paradise prepare a carefully decorated stage in accordance with their aesthetic sensibility for their mating dance, on which they then perform an impressive show for their potential partners. Peacocks shake their iridescent feathers and turn their tail into a giant wheel to attract females.  So a sense of aesthetics thus does not seem to be reserved for humans.

The WWTF project "Comparative aesthetics" investigates the evolutionary function and common roots of the search for beauty in humans and other species, such as birds.

More info 9 (in German)

(Web editor, 12 December 2019)



Science Day 2019 - Poster award in the category "university environment"

Winners of the Poster Awards in the category "university environment" and "science journalism". Photo © T. Suchanek/Vetmeduni Vienna
Winners of the Poster Awards in the category "university environment" and "science journalism". 10

On November 27, 2019, science was celebrated at the Vetmeduni Vienna.  This included a keynote speech by Nuno Maulide, awards for outstanding scientific work, the kick-off of the entrepreneurial Vetmeduni initiative and networking. 45 posters were submitted this year by researchers from the Vetmeduni Vienna and judged by various expert juries. The Scientific Advisory Board of the University, consisting of international scientists and experts from various veterinary disciplines, formed the jury for the poster award category "university environment".

Third place in this category went to Maria Adelaide Marconi of the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology for her poster on the vocal personality of male house mice.

More info (in German) 11

(Web editor, 2 December 2019)



The handicap principle: from erroneous hypothesis to scientific standard

Photo © Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology/ Vetmeduni Vienna
Graphic of a peacock wheel with feather detail 12

In a recently published review, Dustin Penn of the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology at Vetmeduni Vienna reveals a widely accepted hypothesis to be a scientific fallacy. The handicap principle is the most widely cited explanation for the evolution of costly and conspicuous signalling systems in the animal world, such as the colourful plumage of peacocks. According to Penn, however, this idea is completely erroneous and can be rejected.

The article "The Handicap Principle: how an erroneous hypothesis became a scientific princ 13iple“ by Dustin J. Penn and Szabolcs Számadó was published in Biological Reviews .

More info 14

(Web editor, 25 November 2019)



Swallow project receives Citizen Science Award 2019

Dr. Richard Zink and team member Janette Siebert, MSc with the winners (Photo OeAD GmbH/APA-Fotoservice/Schedl)
Group picture of the winning team and project leaders 15

Once again this year, interested people ("citizen scientists") had the opportunity to participate in research projects throughout Austria as part of the Citizen Science Awards 2019 16. The most dedicated citizen scientists were again honored by the Federal Ministry of Science and Research (BMBWF) and the Austrian Exchange Service (OeAD) with the Citizen Science Award on 19 November 2019.

A project of the Austrian Ornithological Centre  "Flugkünstler gesucht - Schwalbe gesehen 17?" ("Flying artists - have you seen a swallow?") was one of the seven winning projects. The aim of the project was to investigate the occurrence of common house martins and barn swallows in the Lower Austrian district of Tulln. Citizen scientists - participating classes as well as individuals - were able to photograph swallows and their nests with camera or smartphone and record their observations on the Wild Neighbors 18 website. On the Citizen Science Award Day, interested schoolchildren had the opportunity to learn more about the birdlife in town and country as well as to take a look behind the scenes of the different nesting aids and bird nests.

The festive ceremony then took place in the ballroom of the University of Vienna. Attractive prizes for two individuals and prize money for the winning class of BG / BRG Tulln (Lower Austria) were awarded based on the number of nests reported during the research period. 

(Web editor, 20 November 2019)  


Vetmeduni Vienna, Carinthia and Hohe Tauern National Park can look back on the successful 1st Mallnitz Days

Walter Arnold (Vetmeduni Vienna), Günther Novak (Mayor Mallnitz), Barbara Ladstätter (Dept. of Education, Carinthia), Klaus Eisank (Hohe Tauern National Park) and Provincial Council Sara Schaar (from left to right) at the 1st Mallnitz Days. Photo © Peter Schober
Group photo Walter Arnold (Vetmeduni Vienna), Günther Novak (Mayor Mallnitz), Barbara Ladstätter (Dept. of Education, Carinthia), Klaus Eisank (Hohe Tauern National Park) and State Councilor Sara Schaar (from left to right) at the 1st Mallnitz Days 19

Back in February 2019, the Province of Carinthia and the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, signed a letter of intent presenting a sustainable concept for the further development and expansion of the university infrastructure in Carinthia. Now the cooperation has begun to bear fruit - in the form of the first Mallnitz Days, which took place from 17 to 18 October 2019 in the National Park Visitor Center in Mallnitz. The Hohe Tauern National Park offers ideal conditions for research and education in wildlife science. For this reason, the focus of the 1st Mallnitzer Tage was on the themes of wildlife ecology and management. Well-known experts of the Vetmeduni Vienna provided the attendees with comprehensive knowledge in the course of numerous workshops, such as how to determine the age of red deer, or the future of chamois in the Eastern Alps. Walter Arnold, Leonida Fusani, Christoph Beiglböck and Friederike Range of the Department of Interdisciplinary Life Sciences reported on their research methods and results.

More info 20 (in German)

(Web editor, 21 October 2019)


Conference award for Jim McGetrick of the Domestication Lab

Photo (c) Katharina Wenig
Jim McGetrick at a conference talk 21

Jim McGetrick from the Domestication Lab of the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology won second place in a "best talk" award at the 6. European Student Conference on Behaviour and Cognition 22, which took place from 4 to 7 September 2019 in Padua. His talk was entitled "Dogs' responses in inequity paradigms may be driven by perceptions of reward attainability". We congratulate our colleague!

(Web editor, 3 October 2019)




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Conference of the expert group on woodpeckers of the German Ornithological Society, 27-29 March 2020, Vienna

Great spotted woodpecker (© Johannes Hloch)

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Recovered a bird ring?

Bird rings of various sizes

Please report your recovery here 26.


Wilhelminenberg Seminar

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

Seminar programme 27


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