Oxytocin and singing

Does singing have different effects on physiology compared to other vocal activities? In a study conducted together with colleagues of the Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Biology, we examined the association of salivary levels of oxytocin, corticosterone and testosterone with different types of activities conduced solo or in group.

Singing and speaking were associated with decreases in salivary oxytocin concentrations, when performed together or alone, however, oxytocin concentrations decreased by less after singing together than after speaking together. Singing together improved self-perceived emotional status and social connectedness more than speaking together.

You can read the full paper here

Linking bird diversity and agricultural management in tropical farmlands

Agricultural intensification, characterized by the loss of native flora and the establishment of monocultures, has been negatively associated with the richness of bird species in tropical regions. However, very little is known about the impact on avian functional roles and evolutionary history across gradients of intensification. In this paper, we analyzed the response of the taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic dimensions of bird diversity inside coffee farms with different management practices. By conducting fieldwork across a ~2000m elevational gradient, we also evaluated the effect of elevation on the response of the bird communities to intensification. We found that the response of the diversity dimensions was linked to specific vegetation elements within the farms, but also to the elevation zone being considered. To learn more, click on this link to access our paper.

A typical coffee-dominated landscape in the mountains of central Costa Rica at middle-elevations

Monge O, Dullinger S, Fusani L, Schulze CH. 2021. Taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic bird diversity response to coffee farming intensity along an elevational gradient in Costa Rica. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 326:107801. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2021.107801.

Lab retreat 08/10/2021

Members of the Fusani Lab 2021

After a break of two years, members of the Fusani Lab finally met again in person in the lovely town of Seebarn. After all the lockdowns and social distancing rules, I think we all were more than ready to meet in person again to hear about each other’s research and, even more importantly, to socialize not via a monitor screen. The day started with a fabulous scientific program with talks from postdocs and PhD students. In several sessions, we heard about the fantastic science that is going on in our lab spanning a diverse range of species from local species, such as storks, to Australian bowerbirds. We even heard a talk about Tanganyika cichlids highlighting the diversity of research done in the group.

We not only heard about the latest research but members of the AOC also gave us valuable insights into their ongoing projects and plans for the future.

After the scientific program, we also organised a short ornithological excursion to a nearby pond. There we could enjoy some great water birds and reed inhabitants. The more experienced ornithologists among us could even hear different woodpecker species calling.    

The group retreat ended with a visit to a local Heuriger where we were received with amazing local food and beverages (I think the Sturm will be remembered by some us for a while not just for the excellent taste).

I would like to thank Anne and Leo for organising the retreat, the Seebarn team for hosting us, and all participates for a fantastic and great day. I really enjoyed it a lot! See you next year.

Physiological innovation and courtship behaviour

The evolution of courtship behaviour often requires specializations of neural, sensory and motor systems. In addition, optimized metabolic, respiratory and cardiovascular systems may be required to sustain the neuromuscular demands. However, physiological specializations for one function can create limits on their use for other purposes. Such trade-offs may influence the way courtship develops but may also provide information used by females for mate choice. We review this body of work with an eye towards expanding our appreciation of the evolution of widespread tissue hormone sensitivity and hormone action as the system through which elaborate courtship behaviours evolve.

Click here to access our article in Animal Behaviour.

Deciphering choreographies of elaborate courtship displays

In our paper “Deciphering choreographies of elaborate courtship displays of golden-collared manakins using markerless motion capture” published in Ethology (2021), we describe a method to record elaborate courtship dances recorded in the 3 dimensional space. Not only did we take all recordings in the field, also the analysis of this data set was a new challenge. We developed a way to describe the movements of golden-collared manakins while attracting their mates and untangled new parameters for studying behavioural differences between individuals.

Animation from the tracked 3D positions of a display of one of our males performing his jumps.

If you are interested to learn more about 3D motion capture and automated tracking software check out our publication here.

A) The graph shows the reconstructed movements of a whole display of a male manakin. Red dots are resting frames and the grey dots where the bird is moving. B) The drawing gives information how we fitted a parabola to the trajectories of the jumps and all the parameters we could derive from it for further analysis.

Janisch J., Perinot E., Fusani L., Quigley C. (2021). Deciphering choreographies of elaborate courtship displays of golden‐collared manakins using markerless motion capture. Ethology https://doi.org/10.1111/eth.13161

If you would like to find out more about the authors check out their profiles:

Judith Janisch

Elisa Perinot

Leonida Fusani

Cliodhna Quigley

  • Dokument

Expression of Interest for PostDoc Fellowships

The University of Vienna is opening an Expression of Interest (EoI) to identify candidates with the necessary profile to be successful in obtaining a MSCA European Fellowships. The EoI will allow potential fellows to identify a supervisor who can guide them in the next stage of their research career and take advantage of the support services offered at the University to help them prepare a successful proposal. The University of Vienna has again made additional funding available for the 10 top-ranked MSCA European Fellowships (top 5 male and top 5 female) awarded to the University (based on the score given by the European Commission). An additional third year of salary will be funded, allowing the fellow and supervisor to carry out additional research, publication, training or grant writing.

For further information about the Call, please visit this web site.

Read our article about bird migration in Der Standard

“Der Reiseplan der ziehenden Singvögel im Frühjahr” (The travel plan of migratory Passerines in spring) by Leonida Fusani and Ivan Maggini appeared on March 5th, 2021 in the “Tierblog: Wilde Nachbarn” (Animal Blog: Wild neighbors) of the newspaper Der Standard. You can read the article following this link.

Females ring doves prefer long courtship but low frequency calls

Our paper “Female behaviour is differentially associated with specific components of multimodal courtship in ring doves” was published in Animal Behaviour!

In this paper, we repeatedly presented females doves with courting males, and we recorded several behavioural responses. By associating female sexual response (in particular, the tail quivers) with a multitude of male courtship parameters (both acoustic and visual), we could show that females seemed to be more attracted by males courting for a long time, but with several short courtship bouts. Also, females preferred males that displayed low frequency calls.

If you want to know more, you can access our paper here.

Clémentine Mitoyen, Cliodhna Quigley, Thibault Boehly and Leonida Fusani (2021). Female behaviour is differentially associated with specific components of multimodal courtship in ring doves. Animal Behaviour, 173, 21-39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2020.12.014

Show me how you sleep and I will tell you how much heat you lose

Sleeping with the head tucked into the feathers is probably one of the oldest known avian behaviors. Although it has been recently shown that birds can reduce their metabolic rate by displaying this posture, the energetic benefit of putting the head under the feathers has never been quantified yet. Through the use of infra-red thermographic imaging and a within-individual approach, we compared the heat dissipation of birds sleeping in different postures at a Mediterranean stopover site during spring migration.

If you want to know more about the amount of energy that you can save by tucking your head into your feathers while sleeping, you can access the paper following this link.

Head of Biochemistry Laboratory at FIWI

We seek highly motivated applicants with a PhD in Biochemistry or related disciplines and experience in multiple methodologies (protein purification, western blots, enzyme assays, hormone analyses, GC-MS, HPLC), preferably related to animal physiology. Previous experience in managing a laboratory, overseeing technicians and training students is desirable. Duties include designing and validating methods to analyse compounds in biological samples (e.g., fatty acids, pheromones and other volatiles, extraction and purification of hormones from plasma and tissue samples, enzymatic activity, diet composition, nutritional analyses). Our research addresses basic and applied questions in ecology and behavior in a variety of vertebrate species. We will consider applicants at different career stages, and we welcome candidates interested in pursuing their own research within the research goals of the department.

Job Details

Type of Contract:                    Temporary (2 years) with possibility of extension

Status:                                     Full-time

Hours per week:                      40

Institute:                                  Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology

Country:                                  Austria

Organisation/Institute Contact Data

Department:                            Department of Interdisciplinary Life Sciences

E-Mail:                                     walter.arnold@vetmeduni.ac.at

Phone:                                     +43 1 250 77 7100

Web:                                        www.vetmeduni.ac.at/fiwi

Monthly gross salary starts from EUR 3,889.50 (14 months/year), and can be increased depending on previous experience.

Please send you application with the reference 2020/1021 via Email to bewerbungen@vetmeduni.ac.at or by mail to Personnel Office, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria

Application deadline:                        November 7th, 2020