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Sarah Zala, PhD

Senior Scientist

Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology
Department of Interdisciplinary Life Sciences
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
Savoyenstr. 1a
A-1160 Vienna

T +43 (1) 25077 7352
F +43 (1) 25077 94 7352

E-Mail Sarah Zala


Google Scholar Profile

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I am passionate about animal behavior and animal communication, and my work has mainly been focused on sexual selection and secondary sexual signals, including chemosensory, acoustic and visual communication. I am also interested in sexual dimorphisms, ecological immunity, life-history evolution, host-parasite interactions, and social learning. I study both, adaptive functions and proximate mechanisms of behavior, and primarily in wild and wild-derived animals under semi-natural and laboratory conditions. I mainly work with house mice (Mus musculus), though I have also studied fish, including sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus), zebrafish (Danio rerio) and guppies (Poecilia reticulata).

Current projects

  • Adaptive functions of ultrasonic vocalizations in male mice (Austrian Science Foundation (FWF, Co-author) grant)
  • Sexual Selection in stickleback fish
  • Sounds and pheromones: neural networks merging olfactory and acoustic cues in sexual imprinting (grant funded by the Human Frontier Science Program, contributor, grant)  
  • Voice Prints: Individual Signatures and Recognition in Mice (Austrian Science Foundation (FWF, Principal Investigator, grant)   

Behavioural Biology Lab


I lead the institute's Journal Club (topics in behavioral and evolutionary ecology), and give practical courses in Experimental Design and Behavioral Ecology, which are also offered for credit at the University of Vienna. I offer another practical course in Behavioral Physiology at the University of Vienna. Lehre

Curriculum Vitae


1999-2003 Ph.D., Biology, Department of Biology, University of Utah, USA
1993-1998 M.S., Biology with Major in Zoology, Division of Behavioral Ecology, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Switzerland


2011-present Senior scientist, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria (including one year of working part-time)
2003-2010 Research scientist, Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria (including ca. one year of working part-time and four years of maternity leave)
2002 Teaching assistant in Ecology and Evolution, Department of Biology University of Utah, USA
2000 Teaching assistant in Behavioral Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Utah, USA
1998 Research Assistant, Department of Biology, University of Utah, USA
1996-1998 Several student assistantships, Division of Behavioral Ecology, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Switzerland


Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB)
European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB)
International Society for Behavioral Ecology (ISBE)
Ethologische Gesellschaft