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Prof. Dr. Silke Kipper

Prof. Dr. Silke Kipper ist an die Technische Universität München gewechselt.
Neue Homepage: Arbeitsgruppe Entomologie
Silke Kipper

Juniorprofessorin bis April 2015

Presse bis 2014





  • 25.06.2007 Beitrag in der der Radiosendung 'Leonardo - Wissenschaft und mehr' im WDR 5: "Zwitschern für die Forschung. Was Vogelgesang über das Gehirn und die Evolution verrät"

Silke Kipper, Juniorprofessorin

In many song bird species females choose mates based on song characteristics such as song output, complexity, vocal performance or repertoire size. Therefore, male song characteristics are thought to be the result of inter- (and intra-) sexual selection. Male nightingales Luscinia megarhynchos possess extremely large song type repertoires (mean/SD 186 +/- 26) (1). The use of large repertoires in territorial interactions among males, allowing song type matching and thereby addressing neighbours or other conspecifics, was examined in several studies (2). By contrast, little is known about song preferences of female nightingales. Do females base their mate choice decisions on the versatility of a repertoire, or do they pay more attention to the quality of acoustic features within songs as was shown for females of song bird species with smaller repertoires (e.g. 3). We are going to investigate such preferences by applying operant conditioning techniques where the control over song playback is left with the subject (4). This will allow us to assess preferences for song or certain song features either consecutively or even simultaneously by providing a choice between two stimuli. Investigating the behaviour of hand-reared females who, as fledglings, will be exposed to a set of species-specific songs under controlled lab conditions, will in addition allow us to address the role of early experience with songs in the formation of preferences in adult birds.


(1) Kipper, S.; Mundry, R.; Hultsch, H.; Todt, D. 2004: Long-term persistence of song performance rules in nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos): A longitudinal field study on repertoire size and composition. Behaviour 141: 371-390. (2) Todt, D. & Naguib, M. 2000: Vocal interactions in birds: The use of song as a model in communication. Advances in the Study of Behaviour 29: 247-296. (3) Ballentine, B.; Hyman, J.; Nowicki, S. 2004: Vocal performance influences female response to male bird song: an experimental test. Behavioral Ecology 15: 163-168. (4) Riebel, K. & Slater, P. J. B. 1998: Testing female chaffinch song preferences by operant conditioning. Animal Behaviour 56: 1443-1453.

Publikationen bis 2015

Bartsch C, Hultsch H, Scharff C & Kipper S (2015) What is the whistle all about? A study on whistle songs, related male characteristics, and female song preferences in common nightingales. (pdf-download, 737 KB) Journal of Ornithology, DOI 10.1007/s10336-015-1245-y Honarmand M, Thompson CK, Schatton A, Kipper S, Scharff C (2015) Early developmental stress negatively affects neuronal recruitment to avian song system nucleus HVC. Developmental Neurobiology, Vol 76 Issue 1: 107-118, DOI: 10.1002/dneu.22302 Bartsch C, Weiss M & Kipper S (2015) Multiple song features are related to paternal effort in Common nightingales. (pdf-download, 650 KB) BMC Evolutionary Biology 15: 115,DOI 10.1186/s12862-015-0390-5 Kipper S, Kiefer S, Bartsch C, Weiss M (2014) Female calling? Song responses to conspecific call playbacks in nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos). Animal Behaviour. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.11.011 Kiefer S, Scharff C, Hultsch H, Kipper S (2014) Learn it now, sing it later? Field and laboratory studies on song repertoire acquisition and song use in nightingales. Naturwissenschaften September 2014,  doi:10.1007/s00114-014-1236-5 Brendler C, Kipper S, Schrader L (2014) Vigilance and roosting behaviour of laying hens on different perch heights. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 157 (2014) 93-99. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.06.004 Weiss M, Hultsch H, Adam I, Scharff C, Kipper S (2014) The use of network analysis to study complex animal communication systems: A study on nightingale song. Proceedings of the  Royal Society B. 20140460; doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0460 Bartsch C, Wenchel R, Kaiser A, Kipper S (2014) Singing onstage: Female and male Common nightingales eavesdrop on song type matching. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. DOI 10.1007/s00265-014-1727-6 Bessert-Nettelbeck M, Kipper S, Bartsch C, Voigt-Heucke S L (2014) Similar, yet different: male Reed Buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus) show high individual differences in song composition, rates of syllable sharing and use. Journal of Ornithology: doi: 10.1007/s10336-014-1052-x Vokurkova J, Petruskova T, Reifova R, Kozman A, Morkovsky L, Kipper S, Weiss M, Reif J, Dolata P T, Petrusek A (2013) The causes and evolutionary consequences of miexed singing in two hybridizing songbird species (Luscinia spp.) PLoS ONE 8(4): e60172. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060172 Apfelbeck B, Mortega K, Kiefer S, Kipper S, Goymann W (2013) Life-history and hormonal control of aggression in black redstarts: Blocking testosterone does not decrease territorial aggression, but changes the emphasis of vocal behaviours during simulated territorial intrusions. Frontiers in Zoology, 10:8 doi:10.1186/1742-9994-10-8. Apfelbeck B, Mortega K, Kiefer S, Kipper S, Vellema M, Villavicencio C, Gahr M, Goymann W (2013) Associated and disassociated changes in hormones, song, behavior and brain receptor expression between life-cycle stages in male black redstarts, Phoenicurus ochruros. General and Comparative Endocrinology 184: 93-102. Apfelbeck B, Kiefer S, Mortega K, Goymann W & Kipper S (2012) Testosterone affects song modulation during simulated territorial intrusions in male black redstarts (Phoenicurus ochruros).  PLoS ONE 7(12): e52009. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052009. Weiss M, Kiefer S, Kipper S (2012) Buzzwords in Females’ Ears? The Use of Buzz Songs in the Communication of Nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos). PLoS ONE 7(9): e45057. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045057 Bartsch C, Weiss M & Kipper S (2012). The return of the intruder: long-term effects of playbacks from different distances in a territorial songbird. Ethology 118: 876-884. Kiefer S, Scharff C, Kipper S (2011) Does age matter in song bird vocal interactions? Results from interactive playback experiments. Frontiers in Zoology 8:29. doi:10.1186/1742-9994-8-29 Searcy W A, Peters S, Kipper S & Nowicki S (2010)  Female Sparrows Use Song to Assess Male Developmental History. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 64: 1343-1349. Kipper S & Kiefer S (2010) Age-related changes in bird’s singing styles: on fresh tunes and fading voices? (Review). Advances in the Study of Behaviour 41: 77-118. Kiefer S, Sommer C, Scharff C and Kipper S (2010) Singing the Popular Songs? Nightingales Share More Song Types with Their Breeding Population in Their Second Season than in Their First. Ethology 116: 619-626 (pdf-download  224 KB) Kiefer S, Sommer C, Scharff C, Kipper S and Mundry R (2009) Tuning towards tomorrow? Common nightingales Luscinia megarhynchos change and increase their song repertoires from the first to the second breeding season. J. Avian Biol. 40: 231-236 (pdf-download 119 KB) Kiefer S, Spiess A, Kipper S, Mundry R, Sommer C, Hultsch H and Todt D (2006) Common nightingales increase their song repertoire size after their first breeding season. Ethology 112: 1217-1224. Naguib M and Kipper S (2006) Effects of different levels of song overlapping on singing behaviour in male territorial nightingales. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 59: 419-426. Kipper S, Mundry R, Sommer C, Hultsch H and Todt D (2006) Larger nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos) have larger song repertoires and arrive earlier on their breeding grounds. Animal Behaviour 71: 211-217. Brumm H, Kipper S, Riechelmann C and Todt D (2005) Do Barbary macaques ‘comment’ on what they see? A first report on vocalizations accompanying interactions of third parties. Primates 46: 141-144. Kipper S. and Todt D (2005) The sound of laughter – recent concepts and findings in research into laughter vocalisations. In: Garfitt, T., McMorran, E. & Taylor, J. (eds.), The Anatomy of Laughter. (Studies in Comparative Literature 8). Legenda, Modern Humanities Research Association and Maney Publishing: London, pp. 24-33. Kipper S and Todt D (2004) Verhaltensbiologie: Wissenschaft an der Schnittstelle zwischen Tier und Mensch. In: J. Kallinich, & G. Spengler, (Ed.), Tierische Kommunikation.(Kataloge der Museumsstiftung Post und Telekommunikation, Bd.19). Edition Braus: Heidelberg, pp 133-142. Kipper S, Mundry R, Hultsch H and Todt D (2004) Long-term persistence of song performance rules in nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos): A longitudinal field study on repertoire size and composition. Behaviour 141: 371-390. Todt D and Kipper S (2003) Der Begriff der Kommunikation in den Biowissenschaften. In: H. Richter, H. W. Schmitz (Ed.), Kommunikation – ein Schlüsselbegriff der Humanwissenschaften? Nodus Publikationen: Münster, pp. 25-59. Kipper S and Todt D (2003) The role of rhythm and pitch in the evaluation of human laughter. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior 27 (4): 255-272. Kipper S and Todt D (2003) Dynamic-acoustic variation causes differences in evaluations of laughter. Perceptual and Motor Skills 96: 799-809. Kipper S and Todt D (2002) The use of vocal signals in the social play of Barbary macaques. Primates 42 (1): 3-17. Kipper S and Todt D (2001) Variation of sound parameters affects the evaluation of human laughter. Behaviour 138: 1161-1178.