Plenary speakers

At ISSABC 2023 we are having a great line up of ECR plenary speakers. To see the whole programme planned for the conference you can access it here

Dr Sonja Wild is a behavioural ecologist whose research investigates the drivers that lead to behavioural diversity in wild animal populations, with a focus on (social) learning processes. She integrates observational data with behavioural experiments using remote sensing techniques to study how social network structure shapes the transmission of novel behaviour through populations, what learning strategies different subsets of individuals employ, and how these learning strategies change throughout an individual’s lifetime and in relation to the physical and social environment they experience.

Dr. Sonja Wild is a behavioural ecologist whose research investigates the drivers that lead to behavioural diversity in wild animal populations, with a focus on (social) learning processes. She integrates observational data with behavioural experiments using remote sensing techniques to study how social network structure shapes the transmission of novel behaviour through populations, what learning strategies different subsets of individuals employ, and how these learning strategies change throughout an individual’s lifetime and in relation to the physical and social environment they experience. Her travel expenses to participate in ISSABC 2023 are partly supported by ASAB.

Dr. Filipa Abreu is a Portuguese primatologist developing research in the areas of spatial cognition and communication. She is interested in understanding how wild primates navigate in their environment and which social and ecological factors influence their movement decisions. She also investigates turn-taking abilities in primates and tries to understand how social factors modulate these interactions using observational and experimental methods with wild and captive animals. Her travel expenses to participate in ISSABC 2023 are partly supported by ASAB.

Mark and Berenika are part of Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria. Although they come from different academic backgrounds (biology and comparative psychology), their interests converge in the interdisciplinary field of animal cognition. In close collaboration with local researchers and indigenous communities, they established a field research station on the remote Tanimbar Islands in eastern Indonesia, where they study the cognitive ecology of wild Goffin’s cockatoos in their natural habitat. At the field site, they aim at investigating the interplay between environmental factors and cognitive capacities, which have rendered this species a sophisticated tool user.

In addition to the main research focus, ‘Goffin Lab Tanimbar’ also aims to incorporate conservation and outreach in its activities. Fieldwork in a novel cultural surrounding is a humbling experience where reality often revises dreams fast. However, glimpses into the hidden secrets of wild Goffin’s cockatoos and the enthusiasm of their local collaborators provide Mark and Berenika with continuous inspiration.

In their talk, they will present past and current research highlights from the field, plans for future approaches, and share insights from their personal journey that has become the adventure of a lifetime.

Contrary to most zoologists, I was not fascinated by nature as a child. I did not even know I could study animals as a career right up until it was time to pick a subject at University. I always loved animals and had many pets as a child, so after some research I decided to study animal behaviour. Luckily, I picked the right subject.  I got my Bachelor in Ethology and then moved to Vienna for a Master in Behaviour, Neuro and Cognition. This is when I first made contact with the field of Animal Cognition. I started by studying the cognitive abilities of goffin’s cockatoos. Soon, however, I realised that my interets leaned more towards those animal groups that were forgotten in this field: reptiles and amphibians. I joined Martin Whiting and the Lizard Lab at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia to study lizards cognition in relation to sociality. Now I am a postdoc at the University of Bern where I study the cognition, social behaviour and welfare of captive Tokay geckos (and dable in some poison frog cognition once in a while).

I am a biologist fascinated by evolution and ecology. The scope of my research combines three main areas of interest: evolutionary ecology, animal behavior, and biodiversity studies. In particular, I am interested in understanding how social cues are integrated in environments where more than one sex produces acoustic cues in frogs and toads. A second line of research interest is related to the investigation of the communication of threatened species, using bioacoustics to generate tools for their evaluation and population management. In this sense, I have developed conservation projects with the great peeping frog Eleutherodactylus grandis in Mexico, and with the passive search using playbacks for the missing Northern Darwin’s frog Rhinoderma rufum in Chile.

To develop my research, I use tools provided by acoustic remote sensing, playback experiments and social media analysis. In current projects, I am integrating multimodal communication to better understand the complexity of communication in amphibians, as well as time series analysis to identify how frogs and insects interact in the same acoustic community.

From June 2019 to January 2020 I did a postdoc in the Animal Communication Lab and the Research Center for Advanced Studies of the Universidad Católica Maule (CIEAM – UCM) in Talca, Chile.

Currently, I am a postodc researcher at the Alfonso L. Herrera Museum of Zoology in the School of Sciences at UNAM, Mexico, and researcher associated to the NGO Ranita de Darwin.