|Institute of Biology II|
Institut für Biologie II
Prof. Wagner directs the chair for zoology/animal physiology
The primary research focus in the lab is on biological information processing. We study the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying orientation and prey capture behavior in barn owls. The barn owl is a specialist for hunting in the dark and offers many advantages for studying information processing. Especially, the barn owl has evolved specializations for sound localization (the ruff, asymmetric ears) and distance perception (frontally oriented eyes). These specializations are reflected in the brain by increased volumina of the structures processing visual and acoustic information. Barn owls are easy to breed and easy to handle once they have been tamed as babies. We, therefore, regard the barn owl as good model system for studying complex behavior.
A broad approach is necessary for the understanding of complex behaviors like prey capture or orientation. In our effort to integrate different levels of the analysis we undertake theoretical, behavioral and neurobiological studies. We regard collaborations with experts from different fields as essential. Therefore, we have esthablished or plan close connections with researchers from theoretical physics, computer science, engineering, neurology, audiology, ophthalmology and psychology. This interdisciplinary effort is reflected in the research projects outlined below.