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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 2024.

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.

Time-period

The next course will take place from 22 September to 5 October 2024.

Course fee

Unfortunately, due to the worsened financial climate, the course is no longer subsidised, and we are forced to raise the course fee significantly. In 2024 the course fee will be 15 500 SEK.

How to apply

Update 1 February 2024: the course is unfortunately now full and we cannot take any further applications for 2024. If you would like to be included on a waiting list, please send us an email at sensory [dot] ecology [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se. 

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 should also reach us by 15 August 2024. Send it electronically to the e-mail address Sensory [dot] Ecology [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se.

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 the 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 an individual PhD student 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
Professor

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

Marie Dacke
Professor

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

Christer Löfstedt
Professor

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

Schedule 2024

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

17.00–20.00 Registration

9.30 Coffee, Registration

10.00 Welcome (EW, MD, BH, 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 (JA)

10.30 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 Introductory lecture. How Nature designs ears (NM)

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Mechanoreception discussion

15.00 Afternoon tea

15.30 Poster session 5: Posters 1-20

16.30 Poster session 6: Posters 21-40

09.00 Acoustic imaging by echolocation in bats (CM)

11.00 Morning tea

11.30 Ecological constraints for sound communication (HR)

13.30 Lunch

14.30 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)

16.30 Afternoon tea

09.00 Hearing and echolocation in whales and dolphins (PM)

11.00 Morning tea

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

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 Locust olfaction targeted - Building a new model (BH)

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 Afternoon tea

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 The sense of taste in vertebrates (MB)

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 The evolution of vision (DN)

11.00 Morning tea

11.30 Vision at the limits (EW)

13.30 Lunch

15.00 Ecology of colour and polarisation vision (MBo)

17.00 Afternoon tea and vision discussion

09.00 Long-distance migration and navigation (SÅ)

10.30 Morning tea

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

13.00 Lunch

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

09.00 The biology of magnetoreception in night-migratory songbirds (HM)

11.00 Morning tea

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

13.30 Lunch

14.30 Poster session 7: Posters 1-20

15.30 Poster session 8: Posters 21-40

16.30 Sixth senses discussion

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

Lecturers

  • JA Jörg Albert, University College London, UK joerg [dot] albert [at] ucl [dot] ac [dot] uk
  • FB Friedrich Barth, University of Vienna, Austria Friedrich [dot] G [dot] Barth [at] univie [dot] ac [dot] at
  • MB Maude Baldwin, Max Planck Ornithology, Germany mbaldwin [at] orn [dot] mpg [dot] de
  • MBo Mike Bok, Lund University,Sweden mikebok [at] gmail [dot] com
  • 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
  • BH Bill Hansson, Max Planck Chemical Ecology, Germany hansson [at] ice [dot] mpg [dot] de
  • AH Anders Hedenström, University of Lund, Sweden Anders [dot] hedenstrom [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
  • SJ Sönke Johnsen, Duke University, USA sjohnsen [at] duke [dot] edu
  • KL Kenneth Lohmann, University of North Carolina, USA KLohmann [at] email [dot] unc [dot] edu
  • CL Christer Löfstedt, University of Lund, Sweden Christer [dot] Lofstedt [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se (Christer[dot]Lofstedt[at]biol[dot]lu[dot]se)
  • PM Peter Madsen, Aarhus University, Denmark peter [dot] madsen [at] bio [dot] au [dot] dk
  • 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
  • GN Gabrielle Nevitt, UC Davis, USA ganevitt [at] ucdavis [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
  • HR Heiner Römer, University of Graz, Austria heinrich [dot] roemer [at] uni-graz [dot] at
  • 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
  • SÅ Susanne Åkesson, University of Lund, Sweden Susanne [dot] Akesson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se
A jellyfish. Photo.