Olfactory Communication Caspers
Universität Bielefeld > biologie > Animal Behaviour > Olfactory Communication Caspers

Chemical Signalling

Barbara Caspers


My main research interest is the function and mechanisms of chemical communication and the question how relatedness is encoded in body odours in vertebrates.

Thanks to a Freigeist Fellowship of the VolkswagenFoundation I am currently investigating the function and mechanism of olfactory kin recognition in zebra finches, trying to understand how relatedness is signaled in body odours.

Since my PhD, which I did on” Olfactory communication in the greater sac-winged bat” at the Leibniz-Institute for Zoo- and Wildflife Research in Berlin, I am fascinated by the use of chemcial cues for communication. Chemical communication or the transfer of information by chemical cues is the oldest and probably the most primitive way of communication and chemical communication is omnipresent around the animal kingdom. After my PhD, I switched from bats to salamanders and from Berlin to Bielefeld. In the group of Sebastian Steinfartz I investigated whether fire salamanders use odours for intraspecific communication, mate attraction and mate choice. During that time I also started the Avian Olfaction Project. Here I am mainly interested in the function and mechansim of olfactory communication in zebra finches. Birds in general and songbirds in particalur have long time been thought to be anosmic, however, meanwhile it is widly accepted that even birds have a good sense of smell. But we are still at the beginning to understand the information transferred by chemcial cues.


Research interests

Olfactory communication in vertebrates
Reproductive strategies
Sexual selection

Personal webpage

Research projects

Junior Research Group:
Function and mechanism of olfactory kin recognition in an avian model system

Logo der Einrichtung

As part of the CRC-212:
Niche choice and niche conformance in fire salamanders

Further Projects

Olfactory communication in Greater sac-winged bats

Olfactory communication in Antarctic Fur Seals (in cooperation with Joe Hoffman)

Mating strategies in Fire Salamanders



Barbara Caspers

Bielefeld University
Department of Animal Behaviour
PO Box 10 01 31
33501 Bielefeld