Reproductive Behavior (Hoi Lab)

General Research

My research has mainly focused on the social, mating, and reproductive behavior of animals. Current questions are related to the role of maternal investment and maternal effects on offspring phenotype and development and whether males are able to manipulate female investment via acoustic or visual ornaments. To explore animal behavior I use multidisciplinary approaches, by integrating genetics, immune system functioning and physiology.

The model species for my research are mainly bird species including house sparrows (Passer domesticus), bearded reedlings (Panurus biarmicus), European hoopoes (Upupa epops), reed warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), black-headed buntings (Emberiza melanocephala), Fairy wrens (Malurus cyaneus), blue tits (Caeruleus cyaneus) and others. For specific questions also other taxa are used including amphipia, reptiles and insect. My study usually combines experimental designs under semi-natural conditions with observational and experimental field research.

Research Topics

Sexual Selection and Reproductive strategies: One of my main interests is to determine the different aspects involved in mate choice. For that reason my research takes the genetic as well as the physiological background into account (Project on “Physiological basis for ornamental development in bearded tits” funded by OEAD and the Hungarian OTKA)

Maternal investment: Beside the importance of sexual selection on individual fitness (offspring development) we also investigate early maternal effects, which means the importance of maternal resources provided by the mother to their offspring during embryo development.

Sexual selection, maternal effects and conservation:  As an applied approach we try to incorprorate the role of our scientific findings, in relation to mate choice and maternal investment, into conservation project. To understand mating behaviour can provide important information for conservation matters.On the other hand, maternal investment can be a very sensitive determinant to predict health, condition or stress and hence important to evaluate the future performance of an individual, population, species or community. Using maternal investment the effect of different environmental factors like light pollution or environmental noise can be investigated in more detail than simply measuring individual density or behavioural performance.


Senior scientists

Herbert Hoi 1, Group leader

Technical and Animal Care Assistants:

Wolfgang Pegler
Roland Sasse
Nathalie Skupa

International cooperation partners

Dr. Alzbeta Darolova 2, Slovakia
Dr. Matteo Griggio 3, Italy
Dr. Attila Hettyey 4, Hungary
Dr. Sonia Kleindorfer 5, Australia
Dr. Anton Kristin 6, Slovakia
Dr. Adam Lendvai 7, Hungary
Dr. Francisco Valera, Spain
Prof. Wolfgang Wink, Germany
Prof. Zeman, Slovakia

Diploma and MSc Students

Julius Barner


We are looking for a motivated student for a Master's Projects.


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