Bird Behavioural Ecology

Abstract Birds show great diversity in mating behaviours, including various forms of mate choice and intra-sexual competition, variation in copulation patterns and promiscuity, and numerous modes of parental care. Understanding this variation on the level of the species and the individual is a major challenge. We approach this by investigating the link between mating/reproductive success and a range of traits relevant in this context, including behavioural and morphological ornaments, daily and seasonal timing of behaviour, activity patterns and sleep, behavioural compatibility and divorce, pair bonds and promiscuity, parental care and sex roles, patterns of breeding-site philopatry and mate sampling. Our study systems cover populations of wild and captive bird species with different mating systems and life-history traits. We combine long-term data sets with key experiments, using modern individual monitoring techniques. We also use a comparative approach to study patterns of variation in life-history traits on a global scale.

We seek PhD candidates for projects in this area investigating aspects of avian sexual selection in the field or in aviaries. In particular we seek applicants who enjoy working in a team and would like to contribute to new techniques and approaches to quantify and analyse behaviour.

Keywords mate choice, extra-pair paternity, sperm competition, inbreeding, biostatistics, GPS tracking, PIT-tag, pair bond, quantitative genetics, macro-evolution

Advisors Wolfgang Forstmeier, Mihai Valcu, Bart Kempenaers, MPIO Seewiesen

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