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Behavioral Biology

Bird song provides an ideal and fascinating system: Bird songs are prominent and complex signals crucial in determining an individual’s fitness. They mediate male-male competition and female choice, conveying different types of information about the sender to receivers, one of our research topics. Across avian taxa, songs may or may not be acquired by learning, involving sophisticated and well delineated special adaptations of the brain. This makes bird song an important model for comparative cognitive research that may inform us about human speech and language, another one of our topics. Song (as a behaviour) is open to detailed quantitative analyses as well as experimental manipulation, and can be studied both in the field and in the laboratory. Another area of interest is the impact of anthropogenic noise on birds and fish. Research projects can be done in the areas indicated.

Research projects

  1. Evolution of communication signals: proximate and ultimate factors.
  2. Learning processes, behavioural development and evolution.
  • A minimum length of 5-6 months is preferable.
  • Number of placements available: 2 per semester.


  • A good knowledge of behavioural biology is necessary.

Faculty Department

Faculty of Sciences.

The Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL) is an internationally oriented institute for research and education in biology. We are part of the Faculty of Science at Leiden University. Our aim is to perform top quality innovative fundamental and strategic research that will lead to scientific progress, contribute to solutions for societal challenges, and generate industrial opportunities, reflected in our general theme ‘Healthy Lives in a Changing World’.

The Institute is organized in three multidisciplinary clusters:

  • Animal Sciences & Health,
  • Plant Sciences & Natural Products,
  • Microbial Biotechnology & Health.

Our research within these clusters covers disciplines like molecular biology and genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, physiology, evolutionary biology, behavioral biology, microbiology, biotechnology, plant ecology. Our BSc and MSc teaching programs are closely linked to on-going research projects and allow students to fully exploit our scientific strength. The IBL represents the core of modern biological research at Leiden and we interact closely with the other life science Partner Institutes in the faculty: the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC), the Leiden Advanced Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) and the Institute for Environmental Sciences (CML). We also collaborate with the Leiden based National Centre for Biodiversity (NCB-Naturalis) and the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC). We distinguish ourselves by using a selection of model organisms and attention to evolutionary processes and environmental stressors.

Rachel, University of North Texas:

"Since participating in EuroScholars, I have been accepted to Leiden University to conduct my masters of science in biodiversity and sustainability. I would not have applied to this university if I hadn't had such a positive experience with EuroScholars".

Anne (Iowa State University)

Read more about Anne's experience in the program

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