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  • Animal Behaviour

    © Universität Bielefeld


March 2023

Student helpers wanted

Job announcement HiWi job for the Bussard project

For the project on filming, sampling and tagging birds of prey (buzzards, red kites, goshawks, eagle owls), we are looking for motivated student assistants from mid-March who enjoy spending time in nature and have a driving licence.

  • Up to 19 h/week, initially for 4 months.
  • Combination with project/BSc/MSc work possible


  • Nest mapping
  • Checks of nest cameras
  • Assistance with bird ringing

If you are interested, please contact:
Dr Nayden Chakarov
Office: VHF-373
Phone: 0521 106 2620

February 2023

Registration and Abstract Submission Open!

Logo Behaviour Tagung 2023 in Bielefeld
© Marc Gilles

The abstract submission and congress registration for Behaviour 2023 is open!

Abstract submission closes April 30th.
You can benefit from these Early-Bird fees until April 30th! From May 1st, congress registration fees will increase.
If you would like to host a workshop during the congress, you can now submit your workshop proposal!
Workshop topics can be anything behaviour-related; from working with specific behaviour-scoring software to improving reproducible coding.

Mehrere studentische Hilfskräfte gesucht/ Several student assistants needed

Logo Behaviour Tagung 2023 in Bielefeld
© Marc Gilles

Wir suchen helfende Hände für die Logistik, Planung und bei der technischen Umsetzung unserer großen internationalen Behaviour Tagung. Vertragsbeginn: idealerweise 1.5.2023

Bei Interesse bitte melden bei:

Nadine Schubert
0521 106 2840

Mehr Informationen zur Tagung gibt es auf der Tagungswebsite.


We are looking for helping hands for the logistics, planning and technical implementation of our large international Behaviour Conference. Start of contract: ideally 1.5.2023

If you are interested, please contact:

Nadine Schubert
0521 106 2840

More information about the conference is available on the conference website.


PhD position in Raptor / Parasite Ecology

Buzzard chick
Buzzard chick © Nayden Charakov

Interested in studying birds of prey? Become part of a long-term project on birds of prey with a unique long-term dataset.
It is your chance for a multi-faceted PhD position that combines field and lab work and provides the opportunity to realise your own scientific projects.

Submission deadline is 01.03.2023

For more information, please check: Raptors-PhD-position-Bielefeld_0223.pdf



January 2023

Welcome Bernice!

Bernice, new member of the group

Bernice Sepers joined the Hoffman Lab. She received the Bielefeld Young Researchers’ Fund to develop a project on fur seal epigenetics.

We wish you many successes and good luck with your project, Bernice!

Open position - Scientific Coordinator NC3 & MGSE

NC3 logo

The Collaborative Research Center Transregio 212 (NC3) and the Institute of Evolution and Biodiversity in the Faculty of Biology at the University of Münster (WWU) are seeking to fill the position of a Scientific Coordinator.

The deadline for applications is 11.02.2023.

For more information check out the following websites:





New paper in Animal Behaviour!

Blue tit on nist box
blue tit © Stephen Salazar

Stephen Salazar along with Kasper Hlebowicz, Jan Komdeur and Peter Korsten tested a commonly held expectation about behavioural flexibility in the wild. Read in their paper what they found out in blue tits: Repeatable parental risk taking across manipulated levels of predation threat: no individual variation in plasticity

Biological Reviews paper out!

wood grouse
wood grouse © Oliver Krüger

Do you want to learn more about the historical emergence of the sex role concept, recent criticisms & rebuttals as well as theoretical links to adult sex ratio and causes & consequences of biased adult sex ratio? Then check out this review written by Oliver and colleagues: Sex roles and sex ratios in animals

PhD thesis handed in!

cover of thesis with bussard chick
© Tony Rinaud

Tony handed in his PhD thesis about "Friends or foes? Blood parasite costs and defence abilities in young raptor hosts". Congratulations!

Happy new year

Happy new year - Chimney sweeper and hat

Happy New Year to all! May it be a wonderful and healthy year!


December 2022

Merry Christmas

Birch trees in winter
© Sabine Kraus

We wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas and wonderful moments with your loved ones.

Start the new year safe and sound.

Congratulations Navina on your paper!

zebra finches on a branch
zebra finches © Navina Lilie

Curious about how male zebra finches adjust their behaviour to the risk of sperm competition? Read about it in Navina's paper: Male social niche conformance? Effects of manipulated opportunity for extra-pair mating on behavior and hormones of male zebra finches

Section speaker

DZG news

Sabine Kraus, together with Ahana Fernandez and Christian Nawroth, is now new section speaker for behavioural biology in the DZG (German Zoological Society).

If you want to know more about the DZG, have a look at their website.

November 2022

Walter Benjamin fellowship

Rebecca in the field
© Rebecca Nagel

Rebecca Nagel has been awarded a Walter Benjamin fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for a period of 2 years. Come January 2022, she will be carrying out research at the University of St. Andrews in the UK in collaboration with Dr. Michael Morrissey. She plans to pair newly collected micro-meteorological data with data from the long-term research project of wild Soay sheep to test the hypothesis that incorporating fine-scale, individual-based environmental conditions into multivariate trait-fitness regression models will produce more robust predictions of selection.
Congratulations, Rebecca, and all the best!

Far from civilisation

sea lion mum with her pup
sea lion © Svenja Stöhr

Our Galapagos team has been in the field since the beginning of October and is now halfway through. They stay for the peak of the breeding season until mid-December. The 4-member field team, which also includes Alexandra Childs and Svenja Stöhr, camps on an uninhabited, remote island with a sea lion colony.
Their daily work consists of tracking births, collecting genetic, hormonal and stable isotope samples, deploying dive computers to study feeding behaviour, studying juvenile behaviour through video observations, conducting personality tests such as approach tests and tests with new objects,...
We wish you continued success in your field season!

October 2022

New paper in Ethology!

Graphic: Cavies under spring or autumn conditions
Wiley Online Library, CC BY-NC 4.0

Anja and Fritz investigated behavioural developmental phenotypic plasticity of juvenile cavies in response to photoperiod. Cavies are highly precocial and reproduce multiple times within a year. This makes them an ideal study species to determine whether such adjustments occur and are adaptive with respect to pace-of-life syndrome (POL).

Curious what they found out? Check out their paper Photoperiod influences the development and the expression of personality traits and social behaviour in wild cavies (Cavia aperea)

Individualisation Fellowships for Postdocs

Advertisement fellowship
© Bielefeld University

The interdisciplinary collaborative project „Individualisation in Changing Environments“ (InChangE) is currently offering a total of 5 Postdoc Fellowships (full-term, salary level TV-L E14) for 18 months at the Universities of Bielefeld and Münster. The disciplines represented in InChangE are biology, philosophy, sociology, economics, psychology, geoinformatics, psychiatry and health sciences.

The fellowships will provide the successful candidates the opportunity to further develop their independent research in the field of individualisation science and to prepare their application for an individual research grant.

Application deadline: 30 November 2022

More details:

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact:

PhD track position available!

bussards in the nest
© Nayden Charakov

Become part of a long-term project on birds of prey with a unique long-term dataset.
In addition to seasonal field work, you have the opportunity to realise your own scientific projects using the cutting-edge technology.
Interested? You can find more information on our website and in the advertisement below.


PhD position Chakarov

Welcome to the new winter semester

pile of books

The new semester has started again as an on-campus semester. We wish everyone a good start and a successful and stimulating semester!

September 2022

Master thesis available

zebra finch pair
© Sabine Kraus

For a project to study whether birds have an instinctive fear of snakes, we are looking for a highly motivated and reliable Master student who enjoys working with zebra finches.

A FELASA certificate is an advantage.

The questions to be explored in this thesis are:

  • Do zebra finches that have never seen a snake before recognize it as potential threat?
  • Do zebra finches have a heritable visual template that allow them to recognize objects?

The Department of Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Animal Behaviour are collaborating in this project. If you are interested and want to be part of this collaboration, please contact


Dr. David Kikuchi

Dr. Sabine Kraus

August 2022

Students wanted

Offer: Student project to investigate the role of immune genes and microbes on body odour and its role in social communication in banded mongooses
© Nadine Schubert

June 2022

Congratulations on the PhD!

Jonas sitting in a tent working in the company of a Galápagos sea lion
Jonas during field work on Camaño © Jonas Schwarz

Very well done! Congratulations to Jonas Schwarz for passing his doctoral thesis on How to behave in a changing world - Development and consequences of stable behavioural differences in the Galápagos sea lion.

If you want to know more about Jonas' research, check out his publications.

Preprint published on parasite costs in early life of hosts

Buzzard chick
Buzzard chick © Tony Rinaud

Tony´s current PhD project aims to investigate avian malaria infection consequences in juveniles of a widely spread raptor, the common buzzard (Buteo buteo). He is interested in evaluating physiological and transcriptional changes due to various intensities of parasitic infections and how hosts and parasites adjust their coping strategies during this arms-race. His new preprint "Only rare, acute blood parasite infections induce physiological costs in avian offspring" is available here:

More work on host and parasite transcription in this raptor-malaria interaction soon to come!

May 2022

Three months in Uganda

Banded Mongoose
Banded Mongoose © Nadine Schubert

Corona has put many obstacles in her way, but finally, Nadine was able to fly to Uganda to carry out her long-planned behavioural experiments with the banded mongoose. Good luck and have a great time in Mweya in the Queen Elizabeth National Park!

If you want to learn more about the Banded Mongoose Research Project, visit this website.




April 2022

20. Nachtansichten - 20th Night Views

Meet the Scientists at the namu
Meet the Scientists © Antje Herde

It's the night of museums, galleries and churches.
On 30 April from 6 pm to 1 am, many different cultural venues in Bielefeld will open their doors. The NC3 exhibition "Tierisch individuell" will also be part of it!

18.00 – 23.00 Meet the Scientists


You can buy tickets in advance.

Links: Namu Program Bielefeld Marketing


Congratulations Lisa on your paper!

Example pictures for the plumage score
Examples of the plumage score © Lisa Kalnins

Lisa developed a novel plumage score – a simple, reliable, and non-invasive way to estimate an important indicator of captive Zebra Finches' well-being. If you want to try it out yourself, take a look at Plumage and Fat Condition Scores as Well-Being Assessment Indicators in a Small Passerine Bird

Student project available!

Antarctic fur seal
© Rebecca Nagel

The immune system protects individuals against pathogens and parasites, but investing into immunity is costly! Energy expenditure on immunity can vary depending on individual characteristics and environmental conditions, such as age and population density. We want to figure out what factors are most important for Antarctic fur seals. Do do this, we have blood smears from seal pups and mothers, and we want to count the number and type of white blood cells. This will also tell us something about the types of infections and diseases Antarctic fur seals are exposed to.

If you are interested in helping with this project (both bachelor and master students are welcome) or would like to find out more, please get in touch with Rebecca Nagel ( or Joe Hoffman ( We look forward to hearing from you!

March 2022

New paper published!

Collage of Journal covers
© Universität Bielefeld

Get detailed insights into the individualization of endocrine phenotypes and their genetic and environmental drivers in the Antarctic fur seal.

Low heritability and high phenotypic plasticity of salivary cortisol in response to environmental heterogeneity in a wild pinniped

Wie klingen eigentlich die Polarmeere?

Arctic Ocean
© Ramona Mattmüller

Our PhD student Ramona Mattmüller is going to talk about Polar Ocean Soundscapes at the Youtube Channel "Wissenschaft fürs Wohnzimmer".


Wie klingen eigentlich die Polarmeere?

31.03.2022; 08:15 pm

The talk will be in German.


New paper published!

Collage of Journal covers
© Universität Bielefeld

Do you want to know more about individual foraging strategies in Galápagos sea lions? Take a look at what Jonas and his Co-authors found out here.

New paper published!

Collage of Journal covers
© Universität Bielefeld

"Demographic Reconstruction of Antarctic Fur Seals Supports the Krill Surplus Hypothesis" read more here

Visit the NC3 exhibition

group of researchers
© Universität Bielefeld/Maximilian Weihs

Come and visit the NC3 exhibition "Tierisch individuell" at the namu.

Discover the research on animals that choose, conform and construct their individual niches!

The opening of the exhibition will take place on 13.03.2022 from 10-17h. Entrance is free!

The exhibition will be on view at the namu from 13 March to 11 September 2022.

February 2022

New paper published!

Collage of Journal covers
© Universität Bielefeld

Congratulations to Marc on his new paper on Olfactory camouflage and communication in birds.

If you would like to dive deeper into the topic of birds' olfaction and variation in preen oil composition, take a look at his paper.

PhD position available in the Hoffman Lab!

porcini mushroom
© Joe Hoffman

3 year PhD position

Are you interested in evolutionary genomics and want to combine fieldwork with lab-based bioinformatic analysis of next generation sequencing data? Well then, this opportunity to work on porcini mushrooms might be just the perfect fit.
Deadline: 1st March 2022

For more information about the lab and the positions, visit the website.

PostDoc position available in the Hoffman Lab!

Logo of the Antarctic fur seal project
© Bielefeld University

4 year PostDoc position

You are interested in population genetics and have experience with RAD sequencing and similar approaches? Take the opportunity to work on the genomics and epigenetics of Antarctic fur seals.
Deadline: 25th February 2022


For more information about the lab and the positions, visit the website.

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