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Sensory ecology

An international course for postgraduate students

Now in its third decade, the international postgraduate course Sensory Ecology runs for two weeks and is limited to 40 participants. The course is held every second year in late September and early October. The world's leading authorities in sensory ecology are invited to Lund to deliver an outstanding program of lectures covering all animal senses. The next course will be held in 2022.

A seal is taking a close look at the camera. Photo.

The senses of animals are essential for every aspect of daily life. Whether detecting a mate or a prey, escaping the attentions of a predator or simply monitoring the surrounding habitat, an animal’s senses are critical to its survival. 

To respond to the opportunities and dangers of the world quickly and effectively, each species must possess a sensory system that is uniquely optimised to its particular ecology. This "sensory ecology" has driven the remarkable range of sensory systems we find in Nature today.

Course contents

In this course, you will learn how senses have evolved, how they function, and the differences and similarities between species. We will also go on an excursion to a bird ringing station on the Falsterbo peninsula. The course consists of both lectures and experiments and includes poster sessions where you can discuss your own research. Have a look at the latest schedule for more information about the contents of the course.

Completion of the course renders 6 ECTS.


The next course will take place from 25 September – 08 October 2022.

Course fee

Even though the course is heavily subsidised, we are unfortunately forced to charge a course fee. In 2022 the course fee will be 8 500 SEK.

How to apply

The closing date for applications is 15 August 2022, although the course is likely to fill before this date. Places will be allocated on a first-in first-served basis until the 40 places are filled.

You apply for the course by filling in the application form. Part of the course includes a poster presentation about your work. Your intended poster title should be included in the appropriate place on the application form.

In addition, an abstract of your poster presentation, sent electronically to the e-mail address Sensory [dot] Ecology [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se, should also reach us by 15 August 2022.

Instructions for preparing abstracts

The paper should be oriented vertically. The block of text must be 17 cm from left to right and no more than 25 cm from top to bottom. Both A4-size and US Letter size paper can thus be used, as long as the block of text remains at the specified size. Please place the text block 2 cm from the left and top edges of the page.

Abstracts must be written in English. Each abstract must contain only one page. We strongly recommend including a black-and-white figure. There are no restrictions on the use of graphics and mathematical or chemical formulae. If you use colour, please note that it will be reproduced in grey scales in the abstract booklet.

Please use the following font and sizes

  • Font – Times or Times New Roman
  • Title – 16 pt
  • Author's name(s) – 14 pt
  • Address including e-mail – 12 pt
  • Text – 12 pt

Literature citations should be given in short form. Preferably send your abstract as a PDF file. If for some reason this is not possible, send your abstract as a Word file.

Payment of the course fee

We are forced to charge a fee to offset the large costs of running the course. According to Swedish law, it is not permitted for you as individual PhD students to pay the course fee from your own pockets. In order to ensure that Swedish law is upheld, it is now required that your university signs an Agreement where it guarantees that you will not pay the course fee yourself and that the fee will instead be paid by your institution. Students from Lund University need not sign an agreement as their supervisors will be internally invoiced. Please note, this agreement is only relevant for the course fee - the costs of travel and accommodation can be paid from any source.

You need to fill out the Agreement Form (docx; 103 kB; download) and have it signed by your Head of department. Text which is coloured blue on the form needs to be filled out by you (or someone at your university). On the second page of the form, there is space for up to 3 students from the same university to fill in their details. In other words, we only require one signed form per university. An important entry on the first page of this form is the address to which we can send your university an invoice for the course fee.

Once the form has been filled in and signed by your head of department, the form should be scanned and sent back to us by email as a PDF document (email to Sensory [dot] Ecology [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se).

Please do this by 15 August in the year of the course.

Lund University will then send your university an invoice at the address you have specified on the Agreement Form. This invoice should be paid prior to your arrival in Lund.

A close-up on the eyes of a spider. Photo.

Contact information

All inquiries should be directed to the following address Sensory [dot] Ecology [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se.

Course leaders

Eric Warrant
Functional zoology

Phone: +46 46 222 93 41
Email: Eric [dot] Warrant [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Marie Dacke
Functional zoology

Phone: +46 46 222 93 36
Email: Marie [dot] Dacke [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Christer Löfstedt
Functional zoology

Phone: +46 46 222 93 38
Email: Christer [dot] Lofstedt [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Latest schedule 2020

The course was unfortunately cancelled due to the covid-19 situation.

Schedule week 1 (Biology building D, Room B-D205)

17.00–20.00 Registration

9.30 Coffee, Registration

10.00 Welcome (EW, AK, CL)

10.30 What is sensory ecology? (EW)

12.00 Lunch

13.00 Poster session 1: Even numbers

15.00 Afternoon tea

15.30 Poster session 2: Uneven numbers

17.30– Get together pub

09.00 Introductory lecture: Mechanoreception (FB)

0.30 Morning tea

11.00 Making sense of sensors: The clever “design” of spider mechanoreceptors (FB)

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Poster session 3: Posters 1-20

15.30 Afternoon tea

16.00 Poster session 4: Posters 21-40

09.00 Neuroethology of the fish lateral line (JM)

11.00- Morning tea

11.30 Seismic neuroethology in vertebrates: mechanisms and behaviour (PN)

13.30 Lunch

14.30 Mechanoreception discussion

15.30 Afternoon tea

16.00 Poster session 5: Posters 1-20

17.00 Poster session 6: Posters 21-40

09.00 Introductory lecture. How Nature designs ears (NM)

10.30 Morning tea

11.00 Acoustic imaging by echolocation in bats (CM)

13.00 Lunch

14.00 1. A case of convergence: the mammalian-like auditory organ of a bushcricket (DR)

2. The sense of electroreception in bees and spiders, a case for electric ecology (DR)

16.00 Afternoon tea

16:30 Olfaction Experiment: Introduction (RH)

09.00 Hearing and echolocation in whales and dolphins (PaN)

11.00- Morning tea

11.30 Ecological constraints for sound communication (KK)

13.30 Lunch

14.30 Hearing discussion

15.30 Afternoon tea

16.00 Guided tour to chemical ecology labs

09.00 Introductory lecture. An introduction to the olfactory system (MS)

10.30 Morning tea

11.00 A tale of two noses: what newborn rabbits and cats tell us about mammalian olfaction (RH)

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Exploring the sensory ecology of tube-nosed seabirds: the use of olfaction in foraging, navigation and individual recognition (GN)

16:00 Coffee and Olfaction Experiment evaluation (RH)

Schedule week 2 (Biology building D, Room B-D205)

07.00-17.00 Excursion to the bird ringing station at Falsterbo penninsula

09.00 Evolution of pheromone diversity and matching receptors in moths (CL)

10.30 Morning tea

11.00 Aquatic chemoreception: Chemical stimuli and their sensory processing in the aquatic environment (MW)

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Olfaction in context (RR)

16.00 Afternoon tea

16.30 Olfaction discussion

09.00 Introductory lecture. Light, habitat and eye design (DO)

10.30 Morning tea

11.00 Hide and seek in the sea: invisible, coloured and glowing animals (SJ)

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Visual orientation and navigation in insects (MD)

16.00 Afternoon tea

16.30 Guided tour to Vision Group labs

09.00 General and special vision (DN)

11.00 Morning tea

11.30 Visual ecology of colour (AK)

13.30 Lunch

15.00 Vision at the limits (EW)

17.00 Vision discussion

10.30 Morning tea

11.00 Magnetic navigation and geomagnetic imprinting in marine animals (KL)

13.00 Lunch

14.00 The magnetic sense of birds (HM)

16.00 Afternoon tea

16.30 Research Lecture: The Lund Wind Tunnel, with a tour of the facility (AH)

09.00 Electrically ‘lighting’ up the dark: Sensory adaptations of weakly electric fish (GE)

11.00 Morning tea

11.30 The infrared ”vision” of pit vipers (TK)

13.30 Lunch

14.30 Poster session 7: Posters 1-20

15.30 Poster session 8: Posters 21-40

16.30 Sixth senses discussion at Stensoffa, Department of Biology’s field station (RM)

09.00 Multisensory information processing for fly flight (JF)

11.00- Morning tea

11.30 Sensory Ecology discussion and course evaluation

13.30– Lunch and free time

18.00– Party?


  • FB Friedrich Barth, University of Vienna, Austria Friedrich [dot] G [dot] Barth [at] univie [dot] ac [dot] at
  • MD Marie Dacke, University of Lund, Sweden, marie [dot] dacke [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
  • JF Jessica Fox, Case Western Reserve University, USA jlf88 [at] case [dot] edu
  • AH Anders Hedenström, University of Lund, Sweden, Anders [dot] hedenstrom [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
  • RH Robyn Hudson, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, rhudson [at] biomedicas [dot] unam [dot] mx
  • SJ Sönke Johnsen, Duke University, USA, sjohnsen [at] duke [dot] edu
  • AK Almut Kelber, University of Lund, Sweden, almut [dot] kelber [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
  • TK Tobias Kohl, Technical University of Munich, Germany, Tobias [dot] Kohl [at] wzw [dot] tum [dot] de
  • KL Kenneth Lohmann, University of North Carolina, USA, KLohmann [at] email [dot] unc [dot] edu
  • KK Konstantinos Kostarakos, University of Graz, Austria, konstantinos [dot] kostarakos [at] uni-graz [dot] at
  • CL Christer Löfstedt, University of Lund, Sweden, Christer [dot] Lofstedt [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
  • NM Natasha Mhatre, University of Western Ontario, Canada, nmhatre [at] uwo [dot] ca
  • JM Joachim Mogdans, University of Bonn, Germany, mogdans [at] uni-bonn [dot] de
  • HM Henrik Mouritsen, University of Oldenburg, Germany, henrik [dot] mouritsen [at] uni-oldenburg [dot] de
  • CM Cynthia Moss, Johns Hopkins University, USA, cynthia [dot] moss [at] gmail [dot] com
  • RM Rachel Muheim, University of Lund, Sweden, Rachel [dot] Muheim [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
  • GN Gabrielle Nevitt, UC Davis, USA, ganevitt [at] ucdavis [dot] edu
  • PaN Paul Nachtigall, University of Hawaii, USA, nachtiga [at] hawaii [dot] edu
  • PN Peter Narins, UCLA, USA, pnarins [at] ucla [dot] edu
  • DN Dan-Eric Nilsson, University of Lund, Sweden, dan-e [dot] nilsson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
  • DO David O’Carroll, University of Lund, Sweden, david [dot] o_carroll [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
  • RR Rob Raguso, Cornell University, USA, rar229 [at] cornell [dot] edu
  • DR Daniel Robert, University of Bristol, UK, D [dot] Robert [at] bristol [dot] ac [dot] uk
  • MS Marcus Stensmyr, University of Lund, Sweden, Marcus [dot] Stensmyr [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
  • GE Gerhard von der Emde, University of Bonn, Germany, vonderemde [at] uni-bonn [dot] de
  • EW Eric Warrant, University of Lund, Sweden, eric [dot] warrant [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
  • MW Marc Weissburg, Georgia Tech, USA, marc [dot] weissburg [at] biology [dot] gatech [dot] edu
  • SÅ Susanne Åkesson, University of Lund, Sweden, Susanne [dot] Akesson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
A jellyfish. Photo.