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  • Behaviour 2023

    14.-20. August 2023 | Bielefeld, Germany

    Behaviour 2023 logo
    © Marc Gilles

Symposia for Behaviour 2023

We are proud to announce the amazing set of symposia that will be taking place at the Behaviour 2023 this August!


Jessie E.C. Adriaense, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Jorg M. Massen, Animal Behaviour and Cognition, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands

Emotional states functionally allow dealing with environmental challenges and opportunities, including social interactions with conspecifics. This clear adaptive role suggests that emotions are phylogenetically conserved and thus are important to a range of species. Yet, research on emotions has for the most part focused on mammalian species, leading to a bias in our
understanding of the evolutionary emergence of emotions and their adaptive benefits. Further, current work faces the methodological challenge of quantifying emotions in animals, including questions concerning interpretations of arousal and valence and the causal relation between an emotion state and its specific behaviours. As such, an interdisciplinary and
integrative perspective, including studies on diverse and distantly-related species, would allow for more systematic comparisons between its research outputs. This in turn would help to clarify the current challenges, and would benefit a wide range of research, from behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology to comparative psychology and animal welfare science. Therefore, this symposium aims to bring together experts from different disciplines, with a focus on theoretical approaches and empirical evidence in diverse species. Furthermore, we aim to include recent developments in technological methods and experimental paradigms,
in both laboratory and field set-ups.

Primary organiser

Julia Balogh

Carolina Gomez Ramirez

The astonishing diversity of insect species has prompted much scientific inquiry, but their behavioural ecology is often overlooked. This is especially confounding given the wide range of habitats colonised by insects and the multitude of their behavioural and sensory adaptations. Ease of breeding and maintenance have contributed to the wide use of some species as model organisms, but field studies are often lacking. This symposium will bridge the gap between laboratory and field research by showcasing
recent advances in our understanding of the behavioural ecology of insects.

Prof. Natalie Hempel de Ibarra has a background in neuroethology. Her research aims to understand how bees process visual information for foraging activities, spatial orientation and navigation, combining field behavioural experiments with lab physiological techniques. She studies honeybees (Apis mellifera), bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) and stingless bees.

Dr. Christoph Grüter is leading a research group investigating the ecological conditions involved in patterns of information use, division of labour, individual decision making and collective behaviour in honeybees, stingless bees and ants. His research combines field studies with genetic analyses and modelling.

Together, these researchers will lay the grounds for a stimulating symposium which aims to provide a platform for this often neglected topic.


Dianne H Brunton, School of Natural Sciences, Massey University


Michelle Roper, School of Natural Sciences, Massey University


The aim of this symposium is to review current understanding of the evolution of vocal complexity across a diversity of animal taxa. For many animals, vocal communication is a central element of their relationships with other individuals and yet identifying universal selection pressures driving vocal complexity has been challenging. The social complexity hypothesis is a prevalent driver of vocal complexity across many taxonomic groups, but conflicting results are common. Moreover, empirical studies even within the same taxonomic groups often use different metrics to measure both social and vocal complexity. Although some consensus exists on what variables best describe social and vocal complexity, there is still significant debate on how to quantify these variables. For example, vocal repertoire size is problematic, especially for graded signals. Finally, the role of alternative drivers such as individual recognition on vocal complexity is poorly studied and requires attention. This symposium will bring together a diversity of researchers (focussing on ECRs) from across the globe to present on this topic and discuss future directions. The seminar will have three parts: 1) Theory and context, 2) Cross taxonomic approaches - empirical studies and meta-analyses (birds, mammals, frogs), 3) Issues, solutions, and future directions in this exciting field.

Primary organiser

Ricardo Caliari Oliveira, Departament de Biologia Animal, de Biologia Vegetal i d'Ecologia - Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain


Viviana Di Pietro, Laboratory of Socioecology and Social Evolution, Department of Biology, KU Leuven, Naamsestraat 59, 3000 Leuven, Belgium

Helena Mendes Ferreira, Laboratory of Socioecology and Social Evolution, Department of Biology, KU Leuven, Naamsestraat 59, 3000 Leuven, Belgium


Life on earth has been dominated by a series of major transitions in evolution in which lower-level units cooperation became essential for the functioning of higher-level biological systems. Throughout evolution, this caused different bacterial symbionts to cooperate to form the eukaryotic cell, cells to cooperate in the formation of multicellular organisms, multicellular organisms to cooperate in social groups and, ultimately, some animal societies to become true “superorganisms”, with discrete reproductive and nonreproductive castes. Each of these leaps in biological complexity is characterized by high levels of cooperation and low levels of internal conflict among the subunits. Nevertheless, there is still scope for multiple potential conflicts among the different actors, given their evolutionary interests are not always aligned. Our symposium will cover a wide range of research in animal behaviour, aiming to explore how conflicts and cooperation forged a remarkable diversity in group living strategies. We will particularly welcome students and early career researchers working on different fields and model organisms to present their results. Our main goal is to create a constructive discussion about how cooperation shaped the different animal societies, and how evolutionary conflicts-of-interest arise and are resolved at various levels of biological organization.

Dana Campbell, Agriculture and Food, CSIRO, Armidale, NSW, Australia

Jessica Monk, Agriculture and Food, CSIRO, Armidale, NSW, Australia

Caroline Lee, Agriculture and Food, CSIRO, Armidale, NSW, Australia


Understanding the behaviour of a species is critical for assessing their welfare, evaluating their capabilities, improving their captive housing, managing conservation strategies, or interpreting their ecological role. New studies build on the knowledge base that exists in the literature where decades of observations by research teams can result in advanced understanding of a species’ behaviours under varying contexts. In contrast, the research situation is substantially more challenging when the species of question is newly discovered, uncommon, and/or unconventional. When there is no literature base to draw on, where does one begin with their research, and what conclusions can be drawn from limited work when decisions need to be made about the species in terms of housing or conservation management. This symposium will draw together presentations by researchers studying the behaviour of unfamiliar species to discuss their approaches to starting out and how much can be learnt from a limited data pool.

Primary organiser

Marion Chatelain


Sabrina Gurten

Pedro Leote

In many countries, land is mostly privately owned. In urbanised environments, private gardens account for about 50% of the greenspaces that serve as wildlife habitats. Therefore, encouraging pro-environmental behaviour in urban citizens is of key importance for addressing current environmental issues. The behaviour of citizens is however often shaped by preconceived beliefs of what defines an “eco-friendly environment” and what is beneficial for wildlife. For example, even though bird feeding is generally aimed at helping birds find food in a landscape of concrete, most people are likely unaware of how this can affect bird behaviour by altering competition for food and territory. Such misconceptions are sometimes the result of greenwashing, but can also be a result of scientists failing to reach the public, or findings being scattered across scientific disciplines. In this symposium we therefore aim to bring together researchers working in this emerging field. Our speakers will showcase recent work on the consequences of citizen’s behaviour on the behaviour of a diverse range of wild animals. The symposium will also serve as a timely opportunity to highlight current knowledge gaps and future research needed for advising on an appropriate pro-environmental behaviour.

Primary organizer

Michela Corsini, Boise State University, USA.


Valeria Mazza, Potsdam University, Germany

Vedrana Šlipogor, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic.


Human activities (such as agriculture, urbanization, deforestation, over-harvesting, hunting and pollution) constitute one of the major causes of habitat and species loss. Wildlife can respond to these environmental changes positively (urban dwellers) or negatively (urban avoiders). To successfully thrive within human-altered habitats, animals need to adjust their behavioral responses over short timeframes, and be able to gain, store, process, and act upon information derived from the immediate environment. There is a growing interest in how behavioral and cognitive traits allow animals to avoid threats and exploit resources because this can reveal which selective pressures act on them, paving the way to establish more effective conservation measures. For instance, individuals can adjust to cities by expressing a more innovative behavior, by using anthropogenic resources like garbage bins and feeders, or by displaying increased habituation towards humans. They can also shift their behavior spatially and temporally to avoid anthropogenic disturbance and artificial settlements, where light, sound and chemical pollution dominate the scene. This symposium will gather researchers from around the world to gain a complete overview of the most recent findings and share their experiences in studying behavioral and cognitive adjustments across human-modified landscapes in a wide range of taxa.

Primary organiser

Vittoria Elliott


Melissa Bateson


Animal welfare science highlights the relevance of understanding animals' own perspectives for reliably interpreting animal behaviours. Although welfare science has traditionally focused on farmed or captive animals, conservationists and wildlife managers are increasingly recognizing the importance of addressing welfare needs of animals in the wild. Integrating welfare sciences with the study of animal behaviour in wild contexts can be extremely valuable for advancing our collective understanding. 

In this symposium, we invite participants to explore concepts such as, how individual behaviour is shaped by interactions with both the physical and social environments; how collective experiences determine both positive (e.g. cooperation, mutualism) and negative experiences (e.g. predation, depredation) among individuals and species; and how the resultant ecological and cultural processes feedback onto the behaviour of individuals, all of which are informed by an understanding of animal welfare.

Wild animal welfare science is an emerging discipline that brings together conservation, wildlife management, animal welfare science, ecology, behaviour, neuroscience, sentience, philosophy, and related disciplines to better understand and improve the lives of animals in the wild. Our symposium will bring together speakers and scholars from a variety of cultures, nationalities, and career stages to explore the intersection between welfare and behaviour.

Diogo F. Antunes, Laboratoire Évolution and Diversité Biologique (EDB UMR 5174), Université de Toulouse, CNRS, IRD, 118 route de Narbonne, Bat 4R1, F-31062 Toulouse cedex 9, France

Stefan Fischer, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, Department of Interdisciplinary Life Sciences, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Savoyenstrasse 1, 1160 Vienna, Austria, & Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, University Biology Building (UBB), Djerassiplatz 1, 1030 Vienna, Austria

Developmental phenotypic plasticity is the ability to respond to environmental inputs during development with phenotypic change. Understanding the causes and consequences of developmental phenotypic plasticity is crucial for a better understanding of the evolution and maintenance of behaviour in animal populations. For most animals, the environment experienced during development is mainly determined by social cues from other peers or parents. During this time, individuals obtain qualitive and quantitative information about the current and the future social environment. Studies showed that an enriched social environment with many, diverse social interactions lead to an improved development of social behaviour and social skills later in life. An interesting avenue of ongoing and future research is to link these results of developmental studies with evolutionary perspectives to better understand how development determines sociality and social evolution. To achieve this goal, we need an interdisciplinary research approach that illuminates (i) the exact physiological and neuro-molecular mechanisms underlying developmental phenotypic plasticity and (ii) the resulting long-term fitness consequences and their implications for social evolution. Although of high relevance for a better understanding of evolution in general, this research approach remains undervalued mainly due to the lack of incorporating mechanistic, and physiological studies with evolutionary long-term studies.

Primary organiser

Irene Godoy, Department of Animal Behaviour, Bielefeld University, Germany


Peter Korsten, Department of Life Sciences, Aberystwyth University, UK

Stephen Salazar, Department of Animal Behaviour, Bielefeld University, Germany


There is rapidly growing interest in using long-term pedigreed datasets of wild populations to estimate genetic and non-genetic contributions to variance in behavioural traits. Studying social behaviour in particular poses certain challenges. First, because it by definition involves interactions between two or more individuals, the social behaviour of an individual is influenced not only by its own genes, but also by the genes of its interaction partners (causing indirect genetic effects). Furthermore, social and/or cultural transmission may be a major contributor to the inheritance of social behaviours. While these considerations may also apply when studying morphological, physiological, and life history traits, their effects are likely more pronounced in social behaviour. 

In this symposium, we will discuss both prospects and challenges in the study of the inheritance of social behaviour. We aim to draw participants analysing social behaviours anywhere in the continuum from competitive to cooperative in wild study systems. We encourage participation from researchers applying methods focused on the issues of multiple inheritance and indirect genetic effects (e.g., applying double pedigrees, multiple relatedness matrices). Our invited speakers will give a general conceptual introduction and a summary of the current state of this exciting field.

Primary organiser

Leanne Grieves


Tatjana Alves Soares

Marc Gilles


All living organisms use chemical information to guide their behaviour. Research in chemical ecology (the study of chemically-mediated interactions between organisms) began in the 1930s, but took off in the 1970s after specialized analytical tools became more readily available. Most work in chemical ecology has focused on insects and plant-insect interactions, but studies on how chemical information is used by other
organisms, including microorganisms, non-insect invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, mammals, and birds are rapidly increasing. Chemical ecology is innately interdisciplinary, linking biochemistry, molecular biology, ecology, evolution, and behaviour. Given the speed at which the field is growing (Fig. 1), its interdisciplinary nature, and its focus on both applied (e.g., pest control) and fundamental questions, we believe a symposium on chemical communication and behaviour will create exciting opportunities for researchers from diverse backgrounds to connect and share their research. We would like to welcome research from multiple taxa, disciplines, and research questions - united under the broad theme of chemical communication. We envision this symposium being open to any research involving chemical communication, provided there is a behavioural component to the work.

chemical communication
Figure 1. Number of Google Scholar results for articles published on “chemical communication” from 1930 to 2022. Search date: 21 November 2022

Primary organiser

Julia Jenikejew, Institute for Terrestrial & Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW), University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover


Marina Scheumann, Institute for Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover

With growing knowledge about vocal communication in animals and their species-specific vocal repertoires, the analysis of acoustic signals has become an important tool in animal monitoring in both livestock and wildlife management. While passive acoustic monitoring can provide information on occurrence, abundance as well as density even of cryptic species that are otherwise difficult to detect, it can also reveal conclusive information on individual physiological as well as affective states. In addition to enabling the determination of species identity even in closely related species, animal vocalisations can also be used in playback setups as a deterrent method, keeping animals away from certain areas
without physical invasion. The goal of this symposium is to present the variety of ways in which bioacoustic investigations can be used in practice and, beyond research, make an important contribution to the understanding, handling and protection of animals. As we are planning to include studies from various animal taxa (dolphins, rhinos, cattle and pigs), we hope to create a conclusive overview of how bioacoustic approaches are used in the field, in conservation and in livestock farming.

Primary organiser

Nicholas Jones


Catarina Vila Pouca

Fishes are increasingly important vertebrate models for cognition research, used in studies across a broad range of fields that use behavioural assays of cognition. Experimental design is fundamental to such assays, and many elements of their design must be carefully considered to ensure results are meaningful and comparable between studies. Despite the importance of these aspects, there are few empirical-based solutions to the methodological challenges involved in tests of cognition, many of which are specific to working with fishes. Design challenges and modifications to behavioral assays are infrequently published, and there is a lack of empirical explorations to quantify how different experimental paradigms influence experimental outcomes. Together, this results in significant waste of research time, effort, resources, and can impact fish welfare– all of which will only increase in importance in the future. We propose this symposium to help draw attention to these issues, provide guidelines, and help refine future experimental design, to reduce the need of researchers having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when faced with methodological challenges. Ultimately, we hope this symposium will help future researchers develop assays for fish cognition and lay the groundwork towards increasing the level of reproducibility and confidence in experimental results of animal cognition.


E. Tobias Krause, Friedrich-Loeffler Institut, Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry, Dörnbergstr. 25/27, 29223 Celle, Germany

Antonia Patt, Friedrich-Loeffler Institut, Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry, Dörnbergstr. 25/27, 29223 Celle, Germany


Animal Welfare becomes of increasing interest and importance in the study of Animal Behaviour. Animals that are kept in captivity and/or are used in behavioural studies are by definition limited in many dimensions of their life (e.g. physical and social environment, diet). Certain concepts of animal welfare, such as the 5-freedoms concept, address ways to ensure welfare of animals. However, while this and other welfare concepts have their merits and are important improvements for animal welfare, they often lack a full implementation of the species ecology and life history as known from the wild conspecific/ancestors.

In this symposium we suggest and address research related to animal welfare in laboratory and farm animals, that not only addresses e.g. as urged by the 5-freedom concept, freedom of discomfort due to environment and freedom to express normal behavior, but ideas how captive animals can have a more nature like and cognitive challenging environment or a physical and social environment that animals can partly take control of.

These are examples how behavioural ecology can be implemented into animal welfare, with all its possibilities, challenges and limitations, to be addressed in this symposium.

Primary organiser

Pralle Kriengwatana


Tomas Norton

Mina Mounir


The acoustic landscape is rich with information from biotic and abiotic sources and is thus an invaluable source from which we can nonintrusively monitor how animals respond to and cope with environments dominated or controlled by humans. As new technologies increase our ability to obtain long-term and continuous recordings in previously inaccessible situations, new challenges arise in how to efficiently analyse complex audio data, especially for the development of reliable indicators of animal health and wellbeing. At the same time, innovative approaches to altering environments in both natural and artificial habitats is emerging as a potential tool for active management of wild and domesticated animals in ways that could fulfill conservation and animal welfare goals. Thus, this symposium will highlight the progress and future of research on how sounds are used to monitor and manage the behaviour and health of free-living and captive animal individuals and populations, and the potential for extension to monitoring and managing communities and ecosystems in an increasingly anthropogenic world.


Clemens Küpper, MPI for Biological Intelligence

Jasmine L. Loveland, University of Vienna


Social behaviours involve diverse and often complex interactions between members of the same species. The behaviours are shaped through molecular and neural mechanisms that regulate brain activity, as the brain is key to the expression of behaviours. Although environmental and social cues normally trigger such behavioural interactions, the expressed phenotypes often have a substantial genetic basis. Recent years have seen tremendous progress in linking distinct behavioural strategies with variation at the level of DNA sequence and/or gene regulation and expression in specific brain areas. For example, a growing understanding of the genetic control of social behaviors involved with reproduction, such as aggression, courtship, parental care or female receptivity, has progressed from genomic regions to single genes. Encouragingly, such studies have been already conducted across a broad range of taxa encompassing a large diversity of behaviours. These endeavors provide a solid platform to advance our understanding about conserved and unique mechanistic features that underly variation in complex behavioural phenotypes. More broadly, they help to improve our understanding about the proximate and ultimate mechanisms that generate intra- and interspecific diversity. For this symposium we invite contributions from researchers that study the links between genomic and behavioural variation. This may involve the detailed characterization of molecular pathways from genotype to behavioural phenotype including molecular neuroendocrinology, and/or genetic regulation of specific social behaviours. We anticipate that advancing our mechanistic understanding about how genes influence brain organization, function and behavioural variation will infuse future studies in behavioral genetics and the evolution of animal behavior.  


Elli Leadbeater, Royal Holloway University of London

Alex Thornton, University of Exeter


Cognitive processes are expected to allow animals to make informed decisions, overcome ecological problems and rapidly adapt to change, but we see enormous variation in cognitive abilities across the animal kingdom. What types of selective pressures render investment in cognition worthwhile? In this symposium, we will explore the ecological and social factors that may favour the use of learning and memory, alongside the constitutive and induced costs that may constrain it. We will also consider what evolves, with reference to the inter-dependence of cognitive traits, and the relationship between cognitive phenotypes and the brain. We encourage submissions from empirical researchers and theoreticians alike, with the aim of building a symposium that is diverse in terms of taxonomic focus and reflects the contributions of fields that range from neuroscience to theoretical biology.

Primary organiser

Adria LeBoeuf


Sanja Hakala


Milk, seminal fluids, eggs, and mouth-to-mouth food sharing are all means by which the genome of one individual can influence the fitness of another. Metabolized biological material is directly transmitted between individuals only in highly fitness-related behaviors such as mating and parental care. Within these materials, transmitted molecules can impact receivers’ physiology and behavior. These molecules and the genes that produce them provide a link between the proximate mechanisms that create these effects and the ultimate social selection pressures of cooperation and conflict under which these behaviors evolve. The current confluence of modern molecular methods with quantitative behavior techniques allow us to connect molecules to selection pressures in an unprecedented way.

The research on socially exchanged materials and their associated behaviors are currently siloed across several fields of science from ecology to medicine. This symposium aims to connect researchers focusing on different behaviors, to foster collaborations, and to formulate unifying concepts and experimental priorities for understanding their role in evolution. In spite of surprising consistency and convergent evolution across these behaviors, the materials they transmit, and likely the forces of selection that govern them, until now very little comparative or integrative work on different social transfers had been done. 

Primary organiser

Pascal Malkemper, Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology of Behavior – caesar, Bonn, Germany


Georgina Fenton, Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology of Behavior – caesar, Bonn, Germany

Magnetoreception is the ability to sense the Earth’s magnetic field and use it for orientation and navigation. More than half a century after its discovery, our understanding of how animals perceive magnetic information remains limited. The mechanism by which animals detect magnetic fields is one of the great mysteries in sensory neuroscience. Notwithstanding, cleverly designed behavioural experiments are the reason that we know about the many species possess this sensory ability and we have been able to characterize some of its fundamental properties. In this symposium, we want to discuss how modern behavioural experiments can deepen our understanding further and lead to the discovery of the receptors. As magnetic information is processed in the brain to initiate meaningful orientation behaviours, neuroethological studies will also be invited. The focus will be on clever experimental design, perturbations to characterize and localize the receptors, and the use of new technologies such as deep learning, closed-loop systems, or virtual reality. Leading figures and young researchers in the field will present their findings in different animal models and discuss commonalities and differences, reconcile the findings, and define the
important questions and promising experimental technologies to focus on in the coming years.

Primary organiser
Souvik Mandal

S Ganga Prasath

Collective behaviour in animals exists across taxa and scales - from the coordinated movement of the school of fishes, the murmuration of birds, or the migrating herds of animals, resulting in the emergence of mesmerising ever-changing shapes, to group of animals cooperating to achieve a common goal that is otherwise unattainable. Studies to understand how animals perform collective behaviour, including the execution of cooperative tasks, range from documenting natural history to quantitative experimental and theoretical works, investigating various aspects such as physical rules, cognition, and decision-making. The advent of modern techniques like computer vision and machine learning in the last few years has made collecting and swiftly analysing vast amounts of data from multiple animals possible, enabling scientists to answer questions that were hitherto impossible. This has led to a lot of excitement and rapid growth in understanding varied aspects of collective and cooperative behaviour. The proposed symposium would be a timely platform for researchers studying different aspects of these behaviours in various animal systems using classical as well as cutting-edge approaches for exchanging knowledge, building networks, and discussing the future direction of this fast-evolving field.

Primary organiser

Öncü Maraci, Bielefeld University, Department of Behavioural Ecology


Alex Figueiredo, University of Oxford

Magdalena Ruiz-Rodríguez, University of Granada


All animals host diverse and complex microbial communities, collectively known as the microbiome. These symbiotic communities have far-reaching effects on animal hosts, from modulating immunity and development to affecting host physiology. Recent studies also identified the microbiome as a potential factor influencing the behaviour and cognitive performance of their hosts. So far, the microbiome has been linked to social behaviours, olfactory communication, mating, foraging, space use and cognitive capacity. Conversely, behaviour may also affect the symbiotic microbial profile of the animal. These bidirectional links between animal behaviour/cognition and the microbiome are thus emerging as an exciting field. This symposium aims to showcase recent research across all animal taxa that tackles these complex interplays, both in laboratory models and wild systems. Well-established techniques to study cognition and behaviour are now allied to rapidly developing high-throughput sequencing technologies, allowing researchers to study the microbiome and the host from different angles. Moreover, new statistical methods enable us to decompose environmental, genetic and microbial factors. This symposium will, therefore, also serve as a timely opportunity to discuss how we can employ these novel approaches to investigate mechanisms linking microbiome and behaviour and incorporate microbiome research into a broader ecological and evolutionary perspective. 

Primary organiser
Maria Moiron – Institute of Avian Research, Germany

David Fisher – University of Aberdeen, UK

Francesca Sanstostefano – University of Exeter, UK

Models of density-dependence make explicit the inclusion of density effects on phenotypes and fitness, acknowledging the role that interactions with conspecifics play in generating phenotypic variation among individuals and in selective processes. Social evolution theory also highlights the key role density has in eco-evolutionary processes, where conspecifics can influence each other’s fitness and so be important sources of selection. This symposium aims to integrate both theoretical frameworks to enhance our understanding of density effects as drivers of individual differences in behaviour and patterns of phenotypic plasticity, and how these density-driven effects influence the eco-evolutionary dynamics of populations. We will bring together researchers studying the effects of density on a broad range of questions, such as individual differences in behaviour, phenotypic plasticity and social responsiveness, evolutionary and adaptive responses, and population dynamics. Our symposium will welcome research that applies a diverse range of approaches, such as empirical, meta-analytical and modelling approaches, across a large diversity of taxonomic groups. The ultimate goal of the symposium is to address the urgent need to understand the adaptive potential of populations in response to the current, rapid changes in the environment and subsequent changes in density, to better predict the future of animal populations.

Primary organiser

Liza R. Moscovice, Institute of Behavioural Physiology, Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology, Dummerstorf, Germany


Jean-Loup Rault, Institute of Animal Welfare Science, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria


Prosocial behaviours, such as consolation, rescue and helping, have been observed across a broad range of animal taxa in nature, and are the focus of experimental research. This research can help to identify biological mechanisms underlying empathy, or sensitivity to the emotional states of others, as well as concern for others’ well-being. The findings have relevance across a range of disciplines, from animal welfare science to human clinical interventions. The goals of this symposium are to bring together researchers working in both field and laboratory settings, to share perspectives and novel methods in order to elucidate the mechanisms mediating empathy-like behaviour in animals. We are also interested in discussing limitations and critiques of current evidence, including concerns about the motivations underlying various prosocial behaviour in animals, and the possibility of more parsimonious explanations for observed behaviours. We therefore invite participants to compare and contrast evidence across species, and to discuss gaps in knowledge that should receive more attention. By facilitating the exchange of ideas across field- and lab-based approaches and across a range of animal models, this symposium will highlight the exciting advances in our understanding of mechanisms mediating prosocial behaviour in animals, and point the way for future work.

Primary organiser

Chayan Munshi, Berlin School of Business and Innovation, Berlin, Germany


Ethophilia, an autonomous research group

Contemporary ethological research endorses behavioural biology as an interdisciplinary area with the implementations of advanced scientific concepts. Behaviour is the manifestation of complex brain regulations and neuronal activities. Neuroethological research has become extremely important in neurobiology or brain research, where the display of marker
behavioural patterns is used to identify neurological abnormalities. This method has been widely accepted in respect to understand the biological balance between brain and behaviour. In fact, the contemporary research on brain-behaviour circuit is implemented in the analysis of mental status in animals and humans and is effectively used in neuro-pharmaceutical investigations of certain neuromodulators and neurotoxic agents in the environment which induce altered neural activities and thus manifest as behavioural plasticity. The aim of the symposium is thus to elucidate the recent research advancements on the neurological mechanisms in animals as well as humans, in regulating several behaviours. This includes
collective decision-making in animals and altered neuroethological activities in organisms confronting different environmental situations. Depending on the contemporary advancements in this brain-behaviour equation in behavioural research, this theme should fit in “Behaviour
2023”, where we can encounter explicit current research on neurobehavioural physiology, cognition, recent models of neuroethological quantification, neurobehavioural stress and other relevant topics.

Primary organiser

Hazel Nichols, Department of Biosciences, Swansea University, UK 


Monil Khera, Department of Biosciences, Swansea University, UK


In this symposium, we will discuss the role of community engagement (CE) as a research method within the field of animal conservation, behavior, and health. CE is a well-regarded tool within human health interventions and its application to animal and environmental health is also being explored at a global level. However, the theoretical underpinnings and applied value of CE is not regularly discussed within the animal behavior community.

We aim to showcase the range of approaches which allow communities, research teams and other stakeholders to share knowledge and ultimately contribute to more meaningful, sustainable, and applied solutions to conservation and animal heath challenges. We encourage participation from researchers who are applying (or are interested in applying) community engagement approaches to a range of topics from conservation, wild animal and livestock health, human-nature conflict, and across Planetary and One Health spheres. Our invited speakers will give a general conceptual introduction of this emerging interdisciplinary field and will delve into case-studies that demonstrate how animal behaviour researchers can work with communities to co-create solutions to conservation problems.

Primary organiser

Ljerka Ostojić, Department of Psychology and Division of Cognitive Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Rijeka, Croatia

Christian Nawroth, Institute of Behavioural Physiology, Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology, Germany

Claudio Tennie, Department of Prehistory and Quarternary Ecology, Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen, Germany

Over the last couple of years, animal behaviour and cognition research has become increasingly influenced by Open Science developments in psychology and related disciplines, often grounded and motivated by the so-called ‘replication crisis’. We can identify two ways in which this influence manifests itself. Firstly, animal behaviour and cognition researchers and scholars have started discussing replicability and related concepts such as variability and generalisability and secondly, researchers have also started to use tools and platforms developed within the Open Science community. We can see an impact of these development
in the way we design studies (e.g., preregistrations, statistical power, generalisability), perform statistical analyses and interpret results (e.g., Open Data and Open Code, Bayesian statistics vs. Null Hypothesis Statistical Testing, interpretation of negative results), and disseminate our research (preprints, Open Access publishing, new publishing initiatives). The aim of this symposium is to bring together researchers and scholars studying animal behaviour and cognition to discuss these recent trends from different perspectives and to critically evaluate their uses and benefits, as well as talk about their future directions and challenges.


Natalie Pilakouta, University of Aberdeen

David Fisher, University of Aberdeen

Social interactions can influence an individual’s vulnerability to predation, ability to find food, and disease risk, therefore influencing individual fitness and group dynamics. Social behaviour varies extensively both among and within species, partly driven by the environment-dependent costs and benefits of being social. Individuals must therefore weigh the balance between these trade-offs in response to changes in environmental conditions. Understanding the effects of abiotic environmental factors on social behaviour is particularly important in light of rapid human-induced environmental changes, such as climate change, ocean acidification, and pollution. However, observed responses to equivalent stimuli are diverse, so we lack general rules for how social behaviour responds to environmental change. The aim of this symposium is to highlight the latest empirical and theoretical work on within-individual changes in social behaviour in response to environmental change, as well as efforts to synthesise research on this topic, in order to identify general rules or broadly applicable hypotheses to test moving forward.

Primary organiser

Sophie Lund Rasmussen, Linacre College, St Cross Road, Oxford OX1 3JA, UK, & Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Department of Biology, University of Oxford, Tubney House, Abingdon Road, Tubney, Abingdon OX13 5QL, UK, & Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7H, DK-9220 Aalborg, Denmark


Aage Kristian Olsen Alstrup, Department of Clinical Medicine - Nuclear Medicine and PET, Palle Juul-Jensens Boulevard 165, DK-8200 Aarhus N, Denmark


The majority of wildlife species are in decline today. According to The Living Planet Report 2022 by WWF, the monitored vertebrate wildlife populations have seen an average 69% decline since 1970. In most cases, a range of different anthropogenic factors are contributing to this decline. Therefore, it is essential to define these causes and their impact on the populations to minimise or prevent the negative effects on our wildlife. Applying insights gained from animal behaviour research is an effective approach for this purpose, as this knowledge can be employed to solve particular challenges for the survival of a species by reducing the risk represented by different man-made sources of danger. 

This session intends to highlight applied animal behaviour research used for practical wildlife conservation, such as reducing the frequencies of injury on wildlife caused by popular garden tools, e.g. by understanding how personality influences the reactions of European hedgehogs to potentially harmful, approaching robotic lawn mowers. And additionally, to describe their behaviour during the encounter with robotic lawn mowers, allowing for the definition of a hedgehog safety test for new robotic lawn mowers entering the market, leading to a quantification, and subsequently, an opportunity for optimisation of the product safety.

Primary organiser

Denis Réale, UQAM, Can.


Samantha Patrick, U. Liverpool U.K.

Niels Dingemanse, U. Munich, Ger.


Ecological studies have slowly moved from seeing habitat as an extrinsic set of factors imposing constrains and pressures on individual animals to an integrative part of these individuals features. With the development of concepts such as genotype-environment covariance, matching habitat choice, habitat-dependent phenotypic plasticity, niche construction, or individual niche specialization, it is now clear that considering habitat as an individual’s extended phenotype will help shed new light on the interactions between individual animals and their environment, and thereby provide a deeper and broader vision of the evolutionary ecology of behaviours and other traits. With this symposium, we would like to bring together researchers who are interested in how to integrate individual habitats features to study and explain the maintenance of individual (co)variation in behaviour and other traits, and their ecological and evolutionary consequences. We also want to encourage discussions around how to incorporate habitat features at different scales to their behavioural ecology studies.

Primary organiser
Xiang-Yi Li Richter, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Luke Eberhart-Hertel, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany

Ignas Safari Mng’anya, University of Dodoma, Tanzania

Dispersal and mating systems are suites of physiological, morphological and behavioural traits fundamental in shaping species’ evolutionary ecology and population viability. They are key drivers of gene flow in space and time, and thus determine a species’ evolutionary potential by affecting the maintenance of genetic and phenotypic variations linked to individuals’ fitness. Dispersal and mating systems are interconnected at multiple levels through their effect on demography and on the relatedness structure within and among populations. They also coevolve in eco-evolutionary feedbacks leading to a variety of dispersal-mating system syndromes in nature. It is therefore surprising that dispersal and mating systems have largely been studied separately – creating two disparate scientific communities.
This relative lack of integration has left critical knowledge gaps regarding how dispersal and mating systems jointly evolve, and the consequences for how populations, species and communities can respond to environmental change. New theoretical and empirical approaches that explicitly consider their eco-evolutionary interdependence are now required. This symposium will bring together theoreticians and empiricists working on dispersal and/or mating systems across taxa. The aim will be
to showcase recent advances, to facilitate communication between two separate fields, and to spark new ideas for their integration and advancement.

Primary organiser

Daniela C. Rößler, Konstanz University


Meg Crofoot, MPI Animal Behavior

Pritish Chakravarty, MPI Animal Behavior


From jellyfish to humans, all animals sleep. Sleep is a universal yet poorly understood behavior, varying significantly in its expression across animals. It is crucial for maintaining normal waking performance, from cognitive functions such as learning and memory to social interactions and decision-making. Despite its ubiquity, we are still far from understanding the underlying functions, architecture, ecology and evolution of sleep. Sleep is still considerably understudied in a behavioral and ecological context. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in extending sleep research to non-traditional models and ecologically relevant settings. With this symposium, we would like to garner recent and current efforts to diversify the field of sleep research, to create novel comparative frameworks to study animal sleep and to generate stronger synergies between traditional sleep research and behavioral ecology. We want to reflect this diversity by bringing in speakers working on different taxa, and using different approaches to study sleep.

Primary organiser

Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar


Antica Culina


Meta-research, that is, the study of research itself, is an inherently interdisciplinary endeavour that investigates efficiency, quality, and bias in the scientific ecosystem, and offers solutions to its challenges. Meta-research emerged as a distinct discipline only recently, where one of the main drivers was the “Reproducibility Crisis” or, perhaps more appropriately named, the “Credibility Revolution”. Meta-research has recently been recognized as an integral component of the scientific ecosystem by funders (e.g. European Commission, NIH), publishers, and scientists alike; yet, it remains poorly integrated into most disciplines. Despite its importance for open, reliable, transparent, and overall, robust science, in behavioural ecology (and ecology in general), meta-research is yet to emerge as a strong and distinct research line. Instead, it is often treated as a side endeavour and performed with little funding and support. With this symposium, we want to (1) bring meta-research to the attention of behavioural ecologists, (2) expose all the benefits that meta-research has to offer to the field of behavioural ecology curriculum, and (3) help establish the foundations of meta-research as its own subdiscipline within the field.

Primary organiser

Sabrina Schalz


Amritha Mallikarjun

Laura Cuaya


In an increasingly urbanized world, many species are living in close proximity to humans, and their behaviour in anthropogenic environments has received growing scientific attention. How individuals behave when hearing human vocalizations has only received limited attention despite recent studies highlighting their ecological significance. For instance, urban gulls show the same decrease in body temperature (physiological stress response) to human shouting as they do to conspecific alarm calls (Di Giovanni et al., 2022). Speech playback leads to an avoidance of the playback area by several mammals (Suraci et al., 2019). Wild-caught large-billed crows and domestic dogs learn to recognize languages from passive exposure (Schalz & Izawa 2020; Cuaya et al., 2022; Mallikarjun et al., 2022). Captive carrion crows and wild Western Australian magpies respond more to unfamiliar than familiar human voices (Dutour et al., 2021; Wascher et al., 2012), while wild jackdaws are less likely to respond to human voices if they had been exposed to high disturbance in the past (McIvor et al., 2022). We are proposing this symposium to generate a broader and more global interest in the study of domestic and wild animals’ behaviours towards human vocalizations.


Nora Schulz, University of Muenster

Jaime Anaya-Rojas, University of Muenster

Ane Liv Berthelsen, University of Bielefeld


Individuals differ. This fact is no longer seen as a nuisance, but rather an important component of behavioural traits. However, identifying and understanding what the causes and consequences of such “individualization” are remains elusive. In this symposium, we aim to explore and highlight how recognizing and incorporating individual variation helps us to better understand vital components of behavioural ecology, such as interactions within and between species, mate choice, social behaviours, trait-mediated effects, etc. In this symposium, we will address five general questions: (1) What are the mechanisms shaping individual variation in behaviours (i.e., individualization)? (2) How does this variation map/connect to fitness at the individual and population level?  (3) What are the implications/consequences of individual variation? (4) How do we measure individualization in behaviour and which tools can we use? And (5) How widespread is individualization nature?  Additionally, we want to explore how expanding individual-based research and adopting individualization as a behavioural and ecological process can help us move the field of behavioural biology forward.

Primary organiser

Sara Sequeira, VIER PFOTEN International


Sabrina Karl, VIER PFOTEN International

Sabine Hartmann, VIER PFOTEN International


In the last decades, science has greatly improved our knowledge of animal behaviour and animal welfare. We now know much more about the mental experiences animals can have and how these affect their welfare. We are also more aware of the impact humans have on animals, and in order to comprehensively assess the welfare state of an animal, it is important to evaluate said impact: handling, training, treating, and caring for an animal are situations where the interaction between humans and animals can lead to either negative or positive mental experiences. Research has focused on mitigating negative experiences, whilst the promotion of positive ones has taken a secondary role. Additionally, the focus has been on the short- and medium-term impact humans have on animal welfare. Therefore, we propose a symposium dedicated to animal welfare and what behaviour can tell us about it. We aim at including talks that focus on areas where humans impact animals, directly or indirectly, and how this is reflected on their behaviour. Our preference is for talks that introduce novel ways of studying animal welfare, with an emphasis on positive behavioural indicators, and what long-term effects the promotion of positive animal welfare has on animals’ lives.

Primary organiser

William Snyder


Elisa Bandini

Claudio Tennie


Ongoing research in the field of animal behaviour and cognition, in parallel with work being conducted by archaeologists and anthropologists, is expanding our knowledge of toolmaking and tool use in non-human species. Not only is a growing cohort of non-human animals being proven capable of making tools or – inadvertently – tool-like objects, but also many of the details of these toolmaking events are shown to mainly occur as a result of innovation and individual learning. The individual learning capacities of non-human animals for the expression of toolmaking behaviours demonstrates the surprising diversity in individual innovative abilities fuelling non-human cultures, while also informing us about the roots of human behaviour and culture, across the millions of years of our evolution.

In this workshop, we would like to present and discuss some of the research being conducted into the innovation and individual learning of toolmaking, across a diverse set of species from the animal kingdom. An emphasis will be placed on the theoretical considerations and methodological approaches that are applied in this research subfield, with the hope of bridging gaps in knowledge and synthesizing between these approaches for a better understanding of the role of innovation and individual learning in non-humans.

Primary organiser

Amelia Wein


Raoul Schwing


The field of research that investigates culture in non-human animals has been active and debated since the first reports of socially transmitted behaviour in titmice in 1949. Since those early days, dozens of studies in the field and the lab have documented social learning, a pre-requisite of culture, in all major vertebrate taxa, as well as some invertebrates. Moreover, the question of what, if anything, makes human culture unique remains a controversial topic to this day. 

Some influential authors have claimed that the mechanism of transmission in social learning is the key difference between human and animal cultures. For example, Tomasello and colleagues claimed “cultural learning is a uniquely human form of social learning that allows for a fidelity of transmission of behaviors and information among conspecifics not possible in other forms of social learning…”. In order to support or refute this idea, it is important to gain an an-depth understanding of the mechanisms of social learning, from both a theoretical and empirical perspective. The proposed symposium will focus on current findings and active areas of research in the field of social learning and culture in humans and non-human animals. 

Primary organiser

Rebecca S. Chen, Department of Animal Behaviour, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany

Tuba Rizvi, Evolutionary Biology, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany

Awareness about the complex systematic inequalities and implicit biases regarding gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability in academia has been increasing, but addressing these shortcomings in practice remains a challenge. Diversity, equity and inclusivity affect professional development, acknowledgement, opportunities, participation, and self-appraisal, among many others. For example, the gender gap drastically increases throughout career progression (the “leaky pipeline”), systematic racial and ethnic discrimination poses a considerable barrier to Black people, Indigenous people and people of colour, and support and appraisal for neurodiverse researchers is often lacking. Whereas research on inequality in Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution (BEE) has focused mainly on gender or ethnicity alone, intersectional approaches are essential to make the field more inclusive by considering the individual and cumulative privileges and barriers. The goals of this symposium are to reveal and discuss the various sources of bias and discrimination, and how these inequalities manifest in practice. Importantly, talks in the symposium will focus on how to change individual behaviour as well as institutional policies to close the gap between theory and practice, to ultimately make BEE more diverse, equal and inclusive for all social identities.

Please note that the format of this symposium is slightly different than the other symposia as we want to accommodate and facilitate discussion and interaction. We are planning to have a longer session for each speaker, where each speaker has a 30-minute slot for a talk, followed by a 30-minute discussion.

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