From Self-Confidence in Rats to Courtship with Electrical Signals

Annual Meeting of the German Zoological Society held at Bielefeld University

From 11-15 September, 400 researchers from 15 countries will come together for a conference at Bielefeld University. At this 110th annual meeting of the German Zoological Society (GZS, Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft), they will discuss new research findings. CITEC researchers are greatly involved in the organization of the event. High-ranking researchers will meet with young researchers in the field at the conference. The GZS uses its annual meeting to provide young people with an optimal point of entry into the discipline of zoology. In public lectures, two prominent researchers will give a broadly comprehensive look into their current research.

Organizing the zoological confeference in Bielefeld are Prof. Dr. Jacob Engelmann and Prof. Dr. Klaus Reinhold (from left). Photo: Bielefeld University “We are pleased that the 110th annual meeting of the German Zoological Society is being held for the second time since 1988 at Bielefeld University,” says Professor Dr. Klaus Reinhold, who heads the Evolutionary Biology research group at Bielefeld University. He is one of the organizers of this year’s event. “Colleagues from the entire world will network with one another during the meeting.” Conference participants hail from England, Ecuador, Italy, South Africa, the United States, and Canada, among other countries.

“Behavioral biology is a topic of research at Bielefeld University’s Cluster of Excellence CITEC. With this topic, we are prominently represented this year in our own organizers’ symposium,” says Professor of Biology Dr. Jacob Engelmann, who heads the CITEC research group Active Sensing, and is also a co-organizer of the conference. “For the symposium, we were able to get renowned scientists Professor Dr. Benjamin de Bivort and Professor Dr. Jan Benda to speak.” The symposium is called “Neuronal Mechanisms in Interaction and Individuality.”

De Bivort is an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University (Massachusetts, USA). In his talk, he will discuss how the individuality of animals can be explained in terms of neurobiology. At the University of Tübingen, Benda investigates how information is processed in the nervous system by combining methods from behavioral research with neurobiological models and approaches. Also attending the conference are researchers from the fields of economics, morphology, and physiology.

Two public lectures are included in the program of events at this annual conference. Professor Dr. Bernhard Misof, from the University of Bonn, will speak on Tuesday, 12 September, on the evolution of insects. The English-language lecture begins at 5:45pm in the Hörsaal 4 (Lecture hall 4). Misof heads the Zentrum für Molekulare Biodiversitätsforschung (Centre for Molecular Biodiversity Research) in Bonn. The second lecture will be delivered by Professor Dr. Joachim Ruther, of the University of Regensburg, on 14 September, at 7pm (also in Lecture hall 4). His talk is titled “The Chemistry Has to Be Right – Sexual Communication in Parasitic Wasps.” “Both researchers are known for their lively presentations and for making their topics entertaining to the general public.”

This year at the conference, two prizes will also be awarded to young researchers. “Promoting young talent is a important part of GZS conferences,” says Reinhold. The Horst-Wiehe prize has been awarded to an outstanding dissertation on a zoological topic every other year since 1991 by the Horst-Wiehe Foundation. The Werner Rathmayer prize is a special award given to high school students who have written a particularly original work in zoology as part of the “Jugend forscht” (“Young people research”) science research contest.

For the keynote lectures, the organizers have invited well-known scientists to Bielefeld, whose research is of particular interest for the Cluster of Excellence CITEC, including:

  • Professor Adam Kepecs, Ph.D. (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, USA) “Confidence in rats, humans and mathematics. Neurobiology of decision-making and cognition.

  • Professor Malcolm MacIver, Ph.D. (Northwestern University, Illinois, USA) “Understanding animals through sensory evolution and robotics.”

  • Professor Dr. Benjamin de Bivort (Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA) “The Neurobiology of Individuality.”

  • Professor Dr. Jan Benda (University of Tübingen) “Courtship duets in the wild: electrocommunication at the limits of sensation.”

The German Zoological Society was founded in Frankfurt am Main in 1890, and is a registered association located in Bonn. The GZS is one of the oldest zoological societies in the world.

More information is available online at:

Prof. Dr. Jacob Engelmann, Bielefeld University
Faculty of Biology
Telephone: 0521 106-4641