The Department of Animal Behaviour at Bielefeld University was the first of its kind within any German University when it was founded on the 1st of November 1973. Under the leadership of Klaus Immelmann, the department quickly became a leading centre of behavioural research, both nationally as well as internationally. Initial research questions focussed on classical ethological and neuroethological questions such as sexual imprinting and animal navigation.
When Fritz Trillmich became the new head of department in 1990, the emerging field of behavioural ecology became the main research topic. After almost 25 years under his leadership, Oliver Krüger took over as head of department on 1st of August 2013. Behavioural ecology will remain the central research topic of the department.
With a team of over 50 people, the different research groups study animal behaviour within the framework of the four questions of Tinbergen, both in the lab and in the field. Current model systems include laboratory studies on zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) and cavies (Cavia aperea), as well as long-term field studies on birds of prey such as common buzzard (Buteo buteo) and goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), and seal species such as Galapagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) and Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella).
Combining individual life histories with experiments, comparative approaches and population-level data, our research evaluates the fitness value of behaviour but also tries to understand the mechanisms by which behavioural variation evolves.