Research Projects

Dr. habil. Stefan Leitner

Many songbirds learn their songs early in life from a song model. In the absence of such a model they often develop an improvised song that differs from the species-typical song. However, the variables that control song learning in a natural social context are largely unknown. The domesticated canary is a suitable model to address this question. [more]
Geographic differences in song are maintained through social learning. The more variable a birds sing in a particular region, the more difficult it is to distinguish them from others. Therefore, to better understand the mechanisms of cultural transmission in the Island Canary, a more detailed information on inter- and intra-island movements is required as well as identifying the exact boundaries of local populations. [more]
Environmental factors influence physiology and behaviour of an individual to a varying degree depending at which life history stage they are experienced. I am interested to what extent environmental cues other than photoperiod (supplementary cues) are influencing reproductive decisions. The wild canary is a suitable model to address this question. [more]
The relationship between neural space and the development of complex behaviours is important in the context of memory formation. There is evidence that interspecific comparisons across and within genera reveal a clear relationship in male birds between song complexity and the volume of the song nucleus HVC that is important for song production and song learning, while within species comparisons do not show uniform results. [more]
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