The Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior at its sites in Konstanz and Radolfzell offers an international, interdisciplinary, and cooperative environment that opens up unique research opportunities. The goal of our basic research is to develop a quantitative and predictive understanding of the decisions and movements of animals in their natural environment.

The Max Planck Department for the Ecology of Animal Societies would like to fill the following position starting in February, March or April 2024. The workplace will be primarily in Konstanz.

PhD position (m/f/d) on
Vocal interactions in animal groups

as part of the EU-funded BioAcoustic AI Consortium 

The Consortium

The BioAcoustic AI Consortium is a new doctoral network focused on training the next generation of researchers at the interface of bioacoustics & AI. The network includes ten fully-funded PhD positions based in various countries: The Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Czechia, Finland, and the UK. PhD candidates in the network will be based at an institution in one of these countries, and will work on their projects in collaboration with experts in both AI and ecology/zoology. They will also collaborate with project partners at other European institutions, including extended research visits for in-depth teamwork. The PhD projects range from developing AI/signal processing algorithms to answering questions in ecology and animal behavior. For more de-tails about the consortium as well as other associated PhD projects, please visit It is possible to apply for multiple positions within the consortium.

The Project

Vocal communication is central to the social lives of many species. Vocalisations are used to mediate a range of social processes, from single call-response interactions, to more extended vocal exchanges, to the ultimate development and maintenance of long-term social relationships. The dynamics and function of vocal interactions are often complex and poorly understood, and can also be shaped by environmental factors such as vegetation or wind which constrain the flow of visual and acoustic information. Understanding how these factors affect communication and coordination in social animals has important implications for the maintenance of social groups, populations, and species. This project will investigate the dynamics and consequences of vocal exchanges in social animals, across several different study species. The project will leverage recently-collected movement and acoustic data from tracking collars deployed on multiple animals within wild social groups, provided by the host supervisor and collaborators at the Communication and Coordination Across Scales Project ( The student will work at the interface of behavioral ecology, bioacoustics, and machine learning to address the research topic.

    Your profile


    • Strong interest in addressing biological questions using quantitative approaches
    • Prior experience with programming in R, Python, etc. is desirable
    • Independence and the ability to proactively develop and implement research ideas
    • Good interpersonal skills and enthusiasm for working with an international, interdisciplinary team
    • MSc degree in any scientific discipline including biology, physics, mathematics, computer science or engineering (students with only a BSc can also be considered but may need to complete additional coursework)
    • Strong written and verbal communication skills in English (German language is not a requirement)
      • Desirable:

      • Experience working with audio data (sound recordings)
      • Experience working with machine learning algorithms, especially deep learning
      • Experience working with bio-logging data (e.g. GPS tracking data, accelerometer, etc.)
      • Eligibility requirements:

        Candidates can be of any nationality. You must fulfil the EU’s “mobility rule” for this funding scheme, which means you should not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the PhD host country (Germany) for more than 12 months during the 36 months prior to starting the PhD. You must not already have a doctoral degree. You must also be eligible to work according to your host country’s regulations (e.g. visa requirements), and also to travel/work in other European countries for collaborations and workshops.

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