Stephan A. Reber, PhD



I am interested in animal communication systems, and specifically in the cognitive capacities of receivers to extract information that goes beyond the perception of the signaling context. After a master thesis on meerkats’ social cognition, my current research focuses on the evolution of vocal communication in the Archosauria. I am investigating the potential of honest acoustic signals in American and Chinese alligators (Alligator mississippiensis/sinensis), as well as the abilities of common ravens (Corvus corax) to perceive syntactical changes in the structure of vocal duets. Research on these extant Archosaurians may even provide insight into the communication of extinct dinosaurs.



Reber SA, Boeckle M, Szipl G, Janisch J, Bugnyar T, Fitch WT (2016) Territorial raven pairs are sensitive to structural changes in simulated acoustic displays of conspecifics. Animal Behaviour, 116, 153-162. doi:

Bugnyar T, Reber SA, Buckner C (2016) Ravens attribute visual access to unseen competitors. Nature Communications, 7. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10506


Reber SA, Nishimura T, Janisch J, Robertson M, Fitch WT (2015) A Chinese alligator in heliox: formant frequencies in a crocodilian. The Journal of Experimental Biology 218: 2442-7.


Reber SA, Townsend SW, Manser MB (2013) Social monitoring via close calls in meerkats. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society 280: 10-13.



Selected conference contributions:

Reber SA, Janisch J, Bugnyar T, Fitch WT (2016) Juvenile American alligators discriminate between close calls of different-sized conspecifics.  Talk, 8th European Conference on Behavioural Biology, Vienna, Austria, 13th of July

Reber SA (2016) Crocodilian communication and cognition research in captivity. Invited key-note speaker at the 2016 British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) meeting, ‘Crocodiles of the World’, Oxfordshire, UK, 13th of May

Reber SA, Fitch WT (2015) Acoustic rival assessment in crocodilians? - Formants in bellows as honest cues to body size in alligators. Talk, 34th International Ethological Conference ‘Behaviour 2015’, Symposium ‘Animal Contests: Assessment and the Evolution of Animal Weaponry’, Cairns, Australia, 13th of August

Reber SA, Boeckle M, Szipl G, Janisch J, Bugnyar T, Fitch WT (2014) No training, just evolution: Spontaneous response to structural changes in duets by Common ravens (Corvus corax). Talk, 7th European Conference on Behavioural Biology, Prague, Czech Republic, 18th of July

Reber SA, Townsend SW, Manser MB (2011) Social monitoring by close calls in meerkats. Talk, 6th Meeting of the Ethologischen Gesellschaft, University of Zurich, Switzerland, 18th of February


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

Animal Behaviour

Current Zoology

Behavioural Processes