Meinolf Ottensmann


Olfactory profiles are fascinating and complex signals that have been neglected for a long time in science; for many years it was common belief that birds cannot smell. Luckily, this point of view has changed dramatically and olfaction is now known to be involved in a multitude of aspects of social communication ranging from mate-choice to kin recognition across multiple taxa.

A previous study from within the lab has shown a correlation between the diversity of a chemical fingerprint and genome-wide heterozygosity in Antarctic fur seals. As part of my Masters degree I will explore the relationship between olfactory profiles and important immune-related features of the genome by using gas-chromatography and molecular tools.

In addition to this, I am working on the analysis of olfactory profiles in three madagascan plover species. Together with Martin Stoffel, I am also developing GCalignR, an R Package for the alignment of gas-chromatography data.

Previous Research and Other Interests

I am a passionate birder with a strong interest in monitoring and conservation of threatened species like farmland birds. Therefore, I contribute to a number of monitoring schemes and participate in the protection of the Northern Lapwing, a charismatic shorebird I have already surveyed during my bachelors. As an excursion guide for the NABU (one of the oldest and largest environment associations in Germany), I share my enthusiasm for bird watching with the general public. Beyond that, I love to spend my free time outside doing different sports.

  • 2014-Present: MSc. Behaviour: From neural mechanisms to evolution – Bielefeld University
  • 2011–2014: BSc Biology, Bielefeld University (focus on ecology and biodiversity)

Contact Details

Department of Animal Behaviour
Bielefeld University
Postfach 100131
33501 Bielefeld

email: m.ottensmann[at]