Dr Bernhard Voelkl

Dr Bernhard Voelkl

Bernhard Voelkl


Name: Dr Bernhard Voelkl
Position: Post doctoral researcher
Email: bernhard.voelkl@zoo.ox.ac.uk



I studied Biology and Zoology at the University of Vienna receiving my PhD in 2005, investigating social learning in marmosets. Later, I switched from primates to birds and from lab to field work, investigating social learning in keas at Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand. After receiving my PhD I worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at the CNRS-Strasbourg with Ronald Noë and the Humboldt University at Berlin with Peter Hammerstein, where I developed theoretical models to predict how the social structure of a group influences patterns of information propagation and cooperation. At the EGI I was a member of the ‘social network group’, studying the social behaviour of Great and Blue Tits. I used techniques of social network analysis in order to quantify individual variation in social behaviour, with the goal to understand how the social role of an individual affects it’s reproductive success and how variation in social behaviour is maintained.


I have recently moved to the University of Bern, joining the Animal Welfare Division, where I am investigating the influence of phenotypic variation on the external validity of biological research. Furthermore, I am scientific coordinator of Waldrappteam, studying social and aerodynamic aspects of formation flight during the migration of Northern Bald Ibis.


Voelkl, B., Firth, J.A. & Sheldon, B.C. (2016): Nonlethal predator effects on the turn-over of wild bird flocks. Scientific Reports, 6, 33476.

Voelkl, B. & Würbel, H. (2016): Reproducibility crisis: Are we ignoring reaction norms? Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 37, 509–510.

Voelkl B., Portugal S.J., Unsöld M., Usherwood J.R., Wilson A.M. & Fritz, J. (2015): Matching times of leading and following suggest cooperation through direct reciprocity during V-formation flight in ibis. PNAS , 112, 2115-2120.

Voelkl, B. (2015): The evolution of generalized reciprocity in social interaction networks. Theoretical Population Biology, 104, 17-25.

Steven J. Portugal, S. J., Hubel, T. Y., Fritz, J., Heese, S., Trobe, D., Voelkl, B., Hailes, S., Wilson, A., Usherwood, J. R. (2014): Upwash exploitation and downwash avoidance by flap phasing in ibis formation flight. Nature, 505, 399–402.