Department of Behavioural Ecology

Evolution in Africa Everyday!

Who we are?

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

Research in our lab focuses on behavioural ecology and animal communication in particular. The most significant topics of our previous studies involved individual recognition, territorial defence, mechanisms maintaining the 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 the evolution of behavioural syndromes in guppies and signal perception in humans. We are also interested in using acoustic animal signals while studying 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 fieldwork components. We think observing naturally behaving animals in their environments is often a key to understanding functions and the 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 the use of individual recognition for conservation purposes.

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

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

New (2023) papers from our lab:

[5] Osiejuk TS, Kubacka J (2023) Male song of the Aquatic Warbler, a promiscuous bird without paternal care, is more complex than previously thought. Scientific Reports 13:5714. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-33001-9

[4] Kaczmarek Ł, Rutkowski T, Zacharyasiewicz M, Surmacki A, Osiejuk TS, Hayastha P (2023) New species Macrobiotidae (Eutardigrada) from Cameroon (Africa), short characteristics of Macrobiotus morphogroups and dichotomous key to nelsonae group. Annales Zoologici 73:1-15. DOI: 10.3161/00034541ANZ2023.73.1.001

[3] Budka M, Sokołowska E, Muszyńska A, Staniewicz A (2023) Acoustic indices estimate breeding bird species richness with daily and seasonally variable effectiveness in lowland temperate Białowieża Forest. Ecological Indicators 148:110027. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2023.110027

[2] Budka M, Piasecka M, Białas JT, Kokociński P, Podkowa P, Surmacki A, Szymański P, Sobczyńska U, Osiejuk TS (2023) Frequent duets, rare choruses, and extremely rare solos – year-round singing behavior in Chubb’s cisticola. Journal of Ornithology DOI: 10.1007/s10336-023-02052-0

[1] Mahamoud-Issa M, Sikora B, Rusiecki S, Osiejuk, TS (2023) The Yellow-breasted Barbet (Trachyphonus margaritatus) introduces vocal duets and choruses with a specific multimodal signal during territorial advertisement. Journal of Ornithology 164:183-192. DOI: 10.1007/s10336-022-02016-w