Current Research

Developing models for quantifying the effect of phenotypic and environmental variation on the credibility of effect size estimates. More Info


I studied Biology and Zoology at the University of Vienna receiving my PhD in 2005, investigating social learning in marmosets. Thereafter 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. In 2012 I joined the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology at the University of Oxford, studying great and blue tits, 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 am member and scientific coordinator of Waldrappteam and elected fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. I joined the Division of Animal Welfare at the University of Bern in 2015. As member of the REFINE team I am developing experimental designs that will improve repeatability of pre-clinical animal research by optimally utilizing phenotypic and environmental variation.

Selected Publications

Voelkl, B., Vogt, L., Sena, E. and Würbel, H. (2018). Reproducibility of preclinical animal research improves with heterogeneity of study samples. PLoS Biology, 16(2), e2003692.

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

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

Firth, J.A., Voelkl, B., Farine, D.R. & Sheldon, B.C. (2015): Experimental evidence that social relationships shape individual foraging behavior. Current Biology, 25, 3138-3143.

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

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.