Department of Behavioural Ecology

Evolution in Africa Everyday!

Who we are?

We are research group at the Faculty of Biology of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland established by Tomasz Osiejuk and Piotr Tryjanowski (now in Institute of Zoology, University of Life Sciences, Poznań) on 1st December 2004.

Research in our lab focuses on the behavioural ecology and animal communication in particular. The most significant topics of our previous studies involved individual recognition, territorial defence, mechanisms maintaining honesty of acoustic signals, links between signals' structure and functional significance, and geographic variation in signals.

We focus heavily on birds' vocalizations but we do not hesitate to expand to other taxa and communication channels. For example, some of the current projects concern also evolution of behavioural syndromes in guppies and signal perception in humans. We are also interested in using acoustic animal signals studing ecology and biology conservation.

Mountain rainy forest in Cameroon - one of the places we do research
Mountain rainy forest in Cameroon - one of the places we do research

Current projects in brief: what, where and why

Most of our projects have strong field work component. We think that observing naturally behaving animals in their environments is often a key for understaning functions and evolution of behaviour. We work on several species models around the World. In Europe, we work - among other species - on the Corncrake and Emberiza buntings. These studies address such issues as territory defence (individual recognition, conflict resolution, costs maintaining signal honesty) as well as spatial signal variation at different scales, or use of individual recognition for conservation purposes.

In recent years, more and more attention is devoted to avian research in tropics. We conduct research on duetting species inhabiting mountain rainy forest of Cameroon (Chubb's cisticola, Yellow-breasted boubou and Bangwa warbler). Cameroon and Mozambique are also our testing ground for research on bioacoustics assessement of avian diversity. Recently, we started project on Turtur doves species which is conducted in several subsaharian countries in Africa (Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, Uganda).

The multimodal communication (acoustic and visual) is studied with use of two model bird species: magpie lark in Australia and starling in Europe. The only animal model we currently study in lab is a guppy. This fish is a very useful model for studying effects of induced mutations and inbreeding on behavioural traits and the role of associative learning in originating mating preferences.

New (2021) papers from our lab:

[7] Wheeldon A, Szymański P, Surmacki A, Osiejuk TS. (2021) Song type and song type matching are important for joint territorial defense in a duetting songbird. Behavioral Ecology in press.

[6] Sottas, C., Schmiedová, L., Kreisinger, J., Albrecht, T., Reif, J., Osiejuk, T.S., Reifová, R. (2021) Gut microbiota in two recently diverged passerine species: evaluating the effects of species identity, habitat use and geographic distance. BMC Ecology and Evolution 21:41. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-021-01773-1

[5] Budka, M., Skierczyńska, A., Antczak, M., Osiejuk, T.S. (2021) Nocturnal singing by diurnal birds in Afrotropical highlands. Journal of Ornithology in press. DOI: 10.1007/s10336-020-01842-0

[4] Szymański P, Olszowiak K, Wheeldon A, Budka M, Osiejuk TS. (2021) Passive acoustic monitoring gives new insight into year-round duetting behaviour in a tropical songbird. Ecological Indicators 122:107271. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.107271

[3] Wheeldon, A, Szymański, P., Osiejuk, T.S. (2021) Yellow-breasted Boubous (Laniarius atroflavus) jointly defend territories with male led duets against stranger pairs, males and females. Ethology 127:176-186. DOI: 10.1111/eth.13116

[2] Jedlikowski, J., Polak, M., Brambilla, M., Ręk, P. (2021) Vocal and non-vocal behavior interact differently in territorial strategies of two sympatric Rallidae species. Journal of Ornithology 162:243-254.

[1] Budka, M., Kokocińskim P., Bogawski, P., Nowak, M., Białas, J. T., Machura, M. (2021) Seasonal changes in distribution and abundance of a local Corncrake population. Journal of Ornithology 162:17-29.