bio663 - Ornithology in Practice (Complete module description)

bio663 - Ornithology in Practice (Complete module description)

Original version English PDF Download
Module label Ornithology in Practice
Modulkürzel bio663
Credit points 12.0 KP
Workload 360 h
2 weeks, 40h/week. Types of programme may differ slightly between the four different courses.
Institute directory Institute for Biology and Environmental Sciences
Verwendbarkeit des Moduls
  • Master's Programme Biology (Master) > Background Modules
Zuständige Personen
  • Liedvogel, Miriam (module responsibility)
  • Bouwhuis, Sandra (Module counselling)
  • Langemann, Ulrike (Module counselling)
  • Vedder, Oscar Herman (Module counselling)
  • Schmaljohann, Heiko (Module counselling)
  • Liedvogel, Miriam (Prüfungsberechtigt)
  • Bouwhuis, Sandra (Prüfungsberechtigt)
  • Langemann, Ulrike (Prüfungsberechtigt)
  • Vedder, Oscar Herman (Prüfungsberechtigt)
  • Schmaljohann, Heiko (Prüfungsberechtigt)
Skills to be acquired in this module
The aim
++ broad and in depths biological expertise
++ in depths knowledge of biological working methods
++ data analysis skills
+ interdisciplinary thinking
+ critical and analytical thinking
++ independent searching and knowledge of scientific literature
++ data presentation and discussion in German and English (written and spoken)
+ teamwork
+ project and time management
+ statistics and scientific programming
of the module is to consolidate various aspects of ornithology as well as to impart up to date methods applied in ornithological research.
Module contents

The module comprises four required elective courses (6 CP each), two of which have to be chosen.

Required elective course 1: Laboratory course and seminar "Ecology of Colonial Seabirds" (6 CP) The Institute of Avian Research safeguards a long-term individual-based study on common terns: colonially breeding, migratory, piscivorous seabirds. Students spend a week at the colony (located at the Banter See in Wilhelmshaven) to ask a scientific question (e.g. about foraging behaviour, coloniality or courtship behaviour) and collect data to answer it, then spend a week analysing the data statistically, writing a short report in Biology Letters format and presenting their results to their peers. Students receive one mark for the report and one for the presentation and the final mark for the course will be the average of these two marks.

Required elective course 2: Laboratory course and seminar “Communication in Birds” (6 CP). Original recordings from bird songs will be used to generate new data  sets for the practical. From these recordings we will prepare  spectrograms and analyze the waveforms and frequency spectra. Techniques  and statistical method that allow to classify song types from  individuals or from populations will be introduced and applied. For  example, cluster analysis and discriminant analysis are statistical  methods to assess the dissimilarity between "objects" or song type  characteristics. The theoretical background for the practical is provided by the seminar using a standard text book on bird song Catchpole & Slater 2008).

Required elective course 3: Laboratory course and seminar “Japanese Quail” (6 CP).Observations and investigations of behaviour in relation to reproductive activity of male and female Japanese quail, at the Institute of Avian Research. Students will learn about theory regarding pace of life and exploration behaviour and develop predictions for inter-individual differences in exploration behaviour in relation to sex and reproductive activity. These predictions will be tested with standardized behavioural observations and measurements of food intake in the quail. The data will be analysed and discussed in the broader context of life-history theory.

Required elective course 4: Laboratory course and seminar “Scientific research in field ornithology, incl. identification of birds” (6 CP) This course has three teaching objectives. Firstly, to impart knowledge of the local bird community. This is conveyed through practical courses, work on bird specimens, and lectures. Secondly, learning and getting to know some standard methods of field ornithology, e.g. breeding survey, waterbird counts, radio telemetry, mist netting. Both teaching objectives form the basis for the third teaching objective. In this, the students independently conduct a scientific ornithological study. The data are analysed in the course under supervision. The results are summarised in a two-page scientific publication. At the end of the course, a kind of scientific conference takes place, in which all scientific projects are presented and discussed. The final grade is made up of the grades for the presentations and the scientific publication.

Required elective course 1:

Becker PH, Frank D, Südman SR (1993) Temporal and spatial pattern of common tern (Sterna Hirundo) foraging in the Wadden Sea. Oecologia 93: 389-393.

González-Solís J, Sokolov E, Becker PH (2001) Courtship feedings, copulations and paternity in common terns Sterna hirundo. Animal Behaviour 61: 1125-1132

Required elective course 2:

Catchpole CK & Slater PJB (2008), "Bird Song, Biological themes and variations", Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition


Required elective course 3:

Reale, D., Garant, D., Humphries, M.M., Bergeron, P., Careau, V., Montiglio, P.O. (2010) Personality and the emergence of the pace-of-life syndrome concept at the population level. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 365, 4051–4063.


Required elective course 4:

Bibby, Burgess, Hill (1995) Methoden der Feldonrithologie

Jonsson (1999) Die Vögel Europas und des Mittelmeerraumes

Südbeck, Andretzke, Fischer, Gedeon, Schikore, Schröder, Sudfeld (2012) Methodenstandards zur Erfassung der Brutvögel Deutschlands

Sutherland, Newton, Green (2004) Bird Ecology and Conservation: A Handbook of Techniques

Svensson, Mullarney, Zetterström (2011) Der Kosmos Vogelführer: Alle Arten Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens
Language of instruction English
Duration (semesters) 1 Semester
Module frequency Summer Term
Module capacity 12 (
number of students varies between the four required elective courses. for REC1 it is 8, for REC2 it is 9, for REC3 it is 4, for REC4 it is 12
Type of module Wahlpflicht / Elective
Module level MM (Mastermodul / Master module)
Teaching/Learning method Übung, Seminar
Examination Prüfungszeiten Type of examination
Final exam of module
within the two weeks per required elective course
1 exam: 1 portfolio (2 presentations, 2 reports)
Lehrveranstaltungsform Seminar und Übung
Frequency SoSe