Behavioral Biology

Behavioural biology examines the behaviour of humans and animals and investigates which behaviour is innate and which skills are learned in the course of life. An overview of our research.

A new paper asks behavioral scientists: how well do you know your animal? more

Do apes have humor?

Great apes playfully tease each other more

a male orangutan looking at the camera

A new study shows, how food availability could catalyze cultural transmission more

three spotted hyenas mobbing a lioness

Strong social relationships make hyenas more likely to team up against lions, even when there’s no obvious benefit more

New paternity study of wild orangutans upends the assumption that competition among males decides who sires offspring more

monk parakeet in a tree

Study is the first to document dialect differences in a parrot across its European range more

Wild chimpanzees show capacity to combine meanings within utterances

New study reveals that wild chimpanzees use vocal sequences to denote a wide range of co-occurring or sequential daily events more

Unique voice print in parrots

Individual voice could help birds be recognized in a flock, no matter what they say more

Behavior is the secret to success for a range expansion

Researchers find that behavioral flexibility and persistence help species, like the great-tailed grackle, expand their range and adapt to new habitats more

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Do apes have humor?

Great apes playfully tease each other more

three spotted hyenas mobbing a lioness

Strong social relationships make hyenas more likely to team up against lions, even when there’s no obvious benefit more

monk parakeet in a tree

Study is the first to document dialect differences in a parrot across its European range more

Unique voice print in parrots

Individual voice could help birds be recognized in a flock, no matter what they say more

Stork flying

Carrying small sensors, they could be the most sensitive and informative weather instruments of all
  more

Curious kids

An experiment, conducted on wild orangutans, uncovers the conditions that spark curiosity more

CubeSat with view of earth and animals

The tracking system has begun testing its new satellite receiver that will continue uninterrupted tracking of animals from space more

Counting Africa's largest bat colony

Artificial intelligence and computer vision provide most accurate estimate yet more

One hyena

Hyenas inherit power from mothers, but it’s a privilege they pay dearly for more

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"Fish are not stupid, they're just different!"

Fish are his passion. Alex Jordan wants to know why they do what they do. An interview with the behavioural biologist more

"In my opinion, 'social distancing’ is the wrong term"

The primatologist Roman Wittig explains in this interview, why he prefers to speak in terms of "spatial” rather than “social” distancing, and how virtual (online) meetings can replace real meetings to a certain extent. more

Even chimpanzees and six-year-old infants want to punish antisocial behaviour more

Migration pays off for songbirds

Blackbirds that spend the winter in the south are more likely to survive the cold season than their conspecifics in central Europe more

Chimpanzees fill another’s knowledge gap

Researchers show that vocalizing in chimpanzees is influenced by social cognitive processes more

Chimpanzees and sooty mangabeys interfere with other group members’ relationships

Bystanders monitor and intervene into grooming interactions of their group members if these threaten their own status or social relationships more

Food odour enhances male flies’ attractiveness

When female flies smell their favorite food, they become more receptive to courting males more

shrew

The tiny mammals reduce the size of their organs in the winter and can even decrease and rebuild bones more

Icarus lifts off

The Icarus on-board computer, the first component of the global animal observatory system, has gone into space more

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Grey parrots help others to obtain food

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology based at the research station outpost for parrot comparative cognition in the Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain, have shown that parrots exhibit a high level of social intelligence and cooperativeness. They readily help others, even when there is no immediate opportunity for reciprocation. Moreover, they reciprocate received favours and do not appear jealous, if conspecifics obtain a better reward than themselves. more

Dogs' clever minds

Dogs and humans have been living together for 15,000 years – a long time to get used to each other.  Behavioural biologists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig are investigating how well the animals have adapted to humans. They discovered that dogs are frequently better at understanding human gestures than other animal species. For example, dogs understand referential gestures, such as pointing, and realise they can get away with doing something forbidden when their owners just happen to be looking elsewhere. more

Bonobos - chimpanzees' gentle cousins

Bonobos - chimpanzees' gentle cousins more

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