We study several aspects of avian biology, from migration physiology to sexual selection, both in the laboratory and in the field. A unifying feature of our research is the broad approach that includes both proximate and ultimate questions. Besides long-term projects on the ecophysiology of Eurasian-African migrants and courtship behaviour of Neotropical manakins, we conduct several other projects. A strength of our group is the large network of collaborators worldwide. Because of the double appointment of Fusani at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, and the University of Vienna, the lab includes people affiliated to both institutions.
Proximate and ultimate causes of elaborate courtship
In a number of taxa, reproduction is preceded by the performance of elaborate displays during which morphological or vocal ornaments are exhibited to the potential mate. Despite decades of studies on the mechanisms that lead to the evolution of elaborate courtship, we know little about the origin of such displays, the function of multiple traits, and how the courted individuals make their choice.
- Comparative aesthetics: A novel approach to investigate multi-modal attractiveness in humans and animals
- Decoding the value of courtship signals by integrated audio-visual analysis
- Doctoral College Cognition and Communication 2
- Learning to be attractive: testing the role of social experience in the development of complex sexual signalling
Billions of animals move around continents twice a year to exploit seasonal resources and survive harsh winter weather. Our research focuses on the physiological adaptations that accompany the journey of birds across desert and seas. One aspect that we have been studying in details is decision-making at stopover sites. Many species make stopover breaks to rest and refuel. We study how they regulate their behaviour at these sites to improve refuelling and how they know when they are ready to resume migration.
- An avian model for understanding adaptations and modulatory drivers of avian migration
- Oxidative stress in bird migration
- The hormone ghrelin: Is it a key player in regulating performance, fuel metabolism and decision-making in migratory birds?
- Stopover biology: How does ghrelin mediate migratory decisions?
- Water balance as a driver of behavioural strategies of migratory birds during desert crossing