Mark O'Hara, PhD


Curriculum Vitae

Mark O'Hara began his studies of Cognitive Biology in the Kea Lab, formerly at the University of Vienna, in 2008. After successfully implementing the touchscreen as a scientific instrument as part of his master thesis, he got admitted to the PhD program “Cognition and Communication” at the University of Vienna.

During his PhD (2011-2016) Mark investigated the capacity of birds for inferential reasoning with consideration of alternative mechanisms influencing decision making, such as exploration and neophobia. Interested in the ecological factors underlying the evolution of cognitive skills he and Berenika Mioduszewska organised an expedition in 2015 to the Tanimbar Islands of Indonesia, the natural habitat of the Goffin's cockatoos.

As a post doc in the Goffin Lab, him and Berenika returned to Tanimbar Islands to establish Goffin Lab Tanimbar 2, in collaboration with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences 3 (LIPI). This field station allows to compare the skills of wild-caught temporarily-housed individuals with captive lab-housed birds in Austria in order to gain further insights into the factors promoting the evolution of the cockatoos' remarkable cognitive abilities.


Main Fields of Research

Cognitive ecology

Comparative cognition

Decision making


Research Projects

  • September 2018 – September 2021 "Cognitive ecology of Goffin's cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana)". Schrödinger Stipend of the Austrian Science Foundation FWF (Project number: J 4169)



O’Hara M, Gajdon GK, Huber L (2012). Kea Logics: How These Birds Solve Difficult Problems and Outsmart Researchers. In: Watanabe S. (Ed.) Logic and Sensibility (pp. 23–37). Tokyo: Keio University Press. 

O’Hara M, Huber L, Gajdon GK (2015). The advantage of objects over images in discrimination and reversal learning by kea, Nestor notabilis. Animal Behaviour, 101, 51–60.

O’Hara M, Auersperg A, Bugnyar T, Huber L (2015). Inference by Exclusion in Goffin Cockatoos (Cacatua goffini). PLOS ONE, 10(8), e0134894.

O’Hara M, Schwing R, Federspiel I, Gajdon GK, Huber L (2016). Reasoning by exclusion in the kea (Nestor notabilis). Animal Cognition.

Huber L, O'Hara M (2016). The Extractive Foraging Hypothesis (Parker & Gibson, 1977, 1979; Parker 2015). Brief entry in: Shackelford and Weekes-Shackelford (eds.) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer.

O'Hara M, Mioduszewska B, von Bayern A, Auersperg A, Bugnyar T, Wilkinson A, Huber L, Gajdon GK (2017). The temporal dependence of exploration on neotic style in birds. Scientific Reports.

O'Hara M, Auersperg A (2017). Object play in parrots and corvids. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences.

Auersperg A, Köck C, Plederman A, O'Hara M, Huber L (2017.). Safekeeping of Tools in Goffin’s Cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana). Animal Behaviour, 128, 125-133.


Mag.rer.nat. Mark Christopher O´Hara PhD.
E-Mail to Mark Christopher O´Hara