Behaviour Symposium

Berlin Behaviourial Biology Symposium

From Tierpsychology to Behavioural Biology –
Past, Present, and Future of an Evolving Science

International Symposium
of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Leopoldina
from 30 April to 4 May 2009 in Berlin, Germany


The discipline of behavioural biology has developed in a rather complex fashion since its foundation as Tierpsychologie (animal psychology) at the beginning of the last century. It has been involved in various ways in conceptual as well as methodological trends and paradigm changes in biology and experienced a high degree of differentiation in its evolution. Subdisciplines such as ethology, behavioural ecology, sociobiology, neurophysiology, human ethology, biosemiotics, evolutionary psychology etc. have not only interacted independently with other disciplines, but have occasionally claimed to be exclusively representative of the entire field while being subjected to strong integrative efforts within the field at the same time.

Berlin, as one of the founding centres of ethology and modern behavioural biology currently with several research groups at each of the city's three universities, seems a good place to discuss the past, present and future of the discipline in an international forum. One of the "fathers of ethology", Oskar Heinroth, worked at the Berlin Zoological Garden, Erwin Stresemann, together with Heinroth the mentor of Konrad Lorenz, was acting from the Museum of Natural History of the Humboldt University and in 1948 Günter Tembrock founded the first research institution for behavioural biology in Germany at the Zoological Institute of the Humboldt University. Based on this historical tradition, one aim is the development of concepts while supporting Berlin as a research centre for behavioural sciences.

Principal Organisers

Christoph Markschies – Patron
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, President

Jutta Schnitzer-Ungefug
Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina

Günter Tembrock - Honorary Chair
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Günter Tembrock passed away on Wednesday, 26 January 2011, aged 92.
With his extraordinary personality he had a strong influence on many people - who knew him, will never forget him.

He leaves behind an exceptional body of work, which will undoubtly be built upon.