OUR

PROJECTS

Jacopo Di Clemente

Foraging, movements and communication of elusive rorqual whales under anthropogenic pressure

Whales are facing increasing anthropogenic pressure. Noise pollution affects their ability to communicate, while the overlap of fisheries with their foraging ecology can alter energetics and costs of their feeding behaviour. Will these predators be able to sustain this level of pressure, or to deal with increasing pressure in the future? Using a combination of non-invasive state of the art technologies and modelling, we plan to understand whether different population of whales can deal with the same anthropogenic pressure in different environment.

Bing Xie

Vocal communication in social networks: the case of the plains zebra (Equus quagga)

Living in groups results in various conflicts due to the different needs of each individuals­. In order to maintain group cohesion, group-living animals thus need to synchronize and coordinate activities. A notable way to achieve this aim is through auditory signals, which, because of their loudness, conspicuousness and long-range travelling abilities, can be perceived by more than one individual. Though acoustic communication between one signaler and one receiver has been widely studied (e.g. individual recognition, mother-infant interactions), in social groups, communication occurs in a network composed of many potential signalers and receivers. We are interested in filling current knowledge gaps by studying a yet poorly investigated topic: the relationship between vocal communication and social networks. The project will use the plains zebra as model, for its unique and stable multilevel societies, frequent and multi-meaning calls, migration habits and naturally individually-labeled stripes allowing individual identification. We will test the hypothesis that vocal communication signals facilitate group/herd movement in general and fission-fusion events (when herds split in smaller harems and bachelor groups, and later associate again) in plains zebra. The project will be carried out both in zoos in Denmark and in the wild (Pilanesberg National Park. South Africa). While zoo settings will allow us to perform controlled recordings under limited acoustic interference, recordings in the wild will provide a clearer, more natural picture of the contexts of production of zebra’s calls.

Funding: China Scholarship Council, Carlsberg Research Infrastructure

Romain Lefèvre

Horse vocal communication: investigating the function of biphonation

Vocalisations constitute an efficient and rapid means of transmitting information to conspecifics. Such information can be encoded in the sequence of elements composing an utterance, or in the acoustic structure of the vocalisation itself (i.e. duration, frequency, amplitude). To be transmitted efficiently, pieces of information that can vary independently from each other (e.g. information about the emotion and identity of the caller) should be encrypted in different and non-correlated acoustic features (“segregation of information”). Biphonation, i.e. the presence of two independent fundamental frequencies (lowest frequency of a periodic waveform), constitutes one ideal way to achieve such segregation. A good example of this phenomenon has recently been demonstrated in horses, which produce whinnies made of two fundamental frequencies, a rare phenomenon among mammals. Interestingly, the lowest frequency (“F0”) of whinnies encodes the arousal (intensity) of the emotion experienced by the caller, while the highest frequency (“G0”), encodes the emotional valence (positive vs negative). In this project, we propose to explore the implication of these two frequencies for horse communication.

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation

Isabel Driscoll

Encoding of affective state in meerkat vocalisations 

Animals’ production of vocalisations varies between being solely dependent on arousal, to referring to a specific object or event in their environment, and in the case of meerkats a combination of both. Meerkat alarm calls are thought to encode predator type (referential) and level of urgency (arousal). We are currently working on whether these calls are truly referential and how much of a role affective state plays on their production. We are doing this by investigating how alarm call production and structure are influenced by an individual’s affective state, and also how this variation may affect the response of the receiver.

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation: NCCR Evolving Language

Social structure of giraffes: effect of social and physical environment

Recent studies have shown that wild giraffes (Giraffa camelopardis) form non-random associations with each other. In this project we use social network analysis (SNA) to investigate how such associations may be controlled or driven by factors like sex, age, kinship and season. The long-term study takes place in Pilanesberg National Park (PNP), South Africa, in collaboration with Copenhagen Zoo, which offers accommodation in a newly established field laboratory. PNP has a population of about 200 giraffes most of which have been individually identified based on their distinctive coat pattern on both sides of their bodies. A photo archive of the individuals has been constructed and Copenhagen Zoo has started up sampling biopsies from the identified individuals to investigate the relatedness between them. The first results using SNA confirm that giraffes form non-random associations and show that they maintain a stable overall social structure over at least 3½ years and between seasons. This applies to the whole population and to each sex separately, although there are sexual differences in how seasons may affect the social coherence.

STUDENT THESES

(since 2019)

End date

Student name

Degree

Thesis title

2019

Lydia Carol Geneviève Cornu

Master

African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in the Greater Mara ecosystem (Kenya): behaviour, spatial ecology and human-wildlife conflict

2020

Cecilie Kramer Borch Rasmusssen

Bachelor

Are pigs happier in an enriched environment? A comparison between barren and enriched conditions

2020

Tine Hansen

Bachelor

Behavioural analysis of stereotypical behaviour in the polar bears Noel and Lynn at Copenhagen Zoo

2020

Frederikke Döör Velter

Bachelor

Dominance rank observed in captive chimpanzees living in Copenhagen Zoo

2020

Helena Møller Nørgård

Bachelor

Behavioral reaction of mice to an innovative recycled composite material

2020

Jens Thor Jensen

Bachelor

Ear postures as an indicator of dairy cow emotional state during brushing

2020

Marc Kjær Holse

Bachelor

Could wide-open eyes be used as a possible indicator of dairy cows’ emotional state

2020

Mette Rosenberg Carlsen

Bachelor

Stereotypic behaviour and hierarchy in the Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) at the national aquarium of Denmark

2020

Nanna Marie Lindelof Rasmussen

Bachelor

Stereotypic Behavior in Elephants: Causes, Consequences & Solutions

2020

Pui Ching Chu

Individual study

Effects of age and sex on donkey vocalization

2020

Cynthia Chanelle Duncan-Jørgensen

Master

Sexual segregation in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) population of Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa

2020

Sidsel Braum Holst & Belinda Pøhl Meldengaard

Project out of the course scope (PUK)

Welfare of horses depending on their daily use

2020

Cristina Fernández García

Project out of the course scope (PUK)

Relationship between altitude, time of the day and flight speed of Coracias garrulus recorded using GPSs during a conservation project in Catalonia (2017-2019)

2020

Lise Majdahl Klysner

Project out of the course scope (PUK)

Welfare Assessment in Captive Animals and Abnormal Behaviour In the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark Sphyrna lewini at the National Aquarium of Denmark

2020

Tina Kristine Søe Jensen

Master

Bioacoustics analyses and investigation of biphonation in the vocalisations of Equidae (Equus ferus caballus and Equus quagga)

2020

Niels Lund Pedersen

Bachelor

Investigation of biphonation and vocal parameters related to emotions in horses

2020

Nicolai Nielsen

Master

Emotional and behavioural analysis of pigs in enriched and barren conditions

2020

Nadja Vive Ivø Beier & Laura Julie Purlund

Bachelor

Behavioral effects among Chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes) during and after COVID-19 lockdown in Copenhagen Zoo

2020

Jeppe Andersen

Master

Description of cognitive bias analysis setup and process for Nubian goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) at Søsterbromølle Farm & Solhøjgård Farm

2020

Amanda My Madsen

Bachelor

Investigating the Potential Correlation Between Social Interactions and Relatedness of Elephas maximus in Copenhagen Zoo

2020

Emilie Cecilie Jensen

Master

The function of biphonation in the vocalizations of domestic horses (Equus caballus)

2020

Mette Jokil

Master

Human interpretation of vocal and visual cues in dogs

2020

Lise Majdahl Klysner

Project out of the course scope (PUK)

Welfare Assessment in Captive Animals and Abnormal Behaviour In the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark Sphyrna lewini at the National Aquarium of Denmark

2020

Josephine & Signe

Project out of the course scope (PUK)

Dominance ranking in adult captive chimpanzees at the Copenhagen Zoo

2020

Tine Hansen

Project out of the course scope (PUK)

Data collection on animal social networks; a methodological study