Mag. Iris Starnberger

Associated DK "Cognition and Communication"


Undeniably, acoustic signals are the predominant mode of communication in frogs and toads. However, additional or alternative signal modalities have gained increasing attention. My current research aims to investigate the function of the colourfull patch found on the throats of male reed frogs (Hyperolius spp.). So far, I could show, that the patch is a gland producing volatile species-specific scent bouquets. Furthermore, the coloration of vocal sac and gular patch might be species specific and may serve as a visual signal component in calling males. Thus, I am now studying the possible of integration of acoustic, visual and chemical cues in species recognition and mate choice. 

I integrate histology, biochemical analysis, spectrophotometry and behavioural experiments in the field (Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda) and in the lab in Vienna to investigate signal modalities and their role in intra- and intersexual communication. 


Menke, M., Peram, P., Starnberger, I., Hödl, W., Jongsma G.,  Blackburn, D.,  Rödel, M.-O., Vences, M. &, Schulz, S. 2016. Identification, Synthesis and Mass Spectrometry of a Macrolide from the African Reed Frog Hyperolius cinnamomeoventris. Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry 2016, 12, 2731–2738. doi:10.3762/bjoc.12.269

Munteanu, A. M., Starnberger, I., Pašukonis, A., Bugnyar, T., Hödl, W., & Fitch, W. T. (2016). Take the long way home: Behaviour of a neotropical frog, Allobates femoralis, in a detour task . Behavioural Processes, 126, 71–75.

Starnberger, I., Preininger, D., & Hödl, W. 2014. The anuran vocal sac: a tool for multimodal signalling. Animal Behaviour, 97,281-288. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.07.027

Starnberger, I., Preininger, D., & Hödl, W. 2014. From uni- to multimodality: towards an integrative view on anuran communication. Journal of Comparative Physiology a: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, 200(9), 777–787. doi:10.1007/s00359-014-0923-1

Starnberger, I., Poth, D., Peram, P. S., Schulz, S., Vences, M., Knudsen, J., Barej, M. F., Rödel, M.-O., Walzl, M. & Hödl, W. 2013. Take time to smell the frogs: vocal sac glands of reed frogs (Anura: Hyperoliidae) contain species-specific chemical cocktails. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society110, 828-838.

Preininger, D., Boeckle, M., Freudmann, A., Starnberger, I., Sztatecsny, M. & Hödl, W. 2013. Multimodal signaling in the Small Torrent Frog (Micrixalus saxicola) in a complex acoustic environment. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 67, 1449–1456.

Starnberger, I., Kamminga, P., Fosah, V. C. & Nuttman, C. 2011. The “Push-Up” as a calling posture in Nectophrynoides tornieri (Anura: Bufonidae) in the Amani Nature Reserve, Tanzania. Herpetologica, 67, 124–134.


Ad-hoc reviewer for the following peer-reviewed publications:


Behavioural Processes

Biological Journal of the Linnean Society


Chemical Signaling in Vertebrates


Editorial Services:

Section Editor for "Herpetology Notes“