Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior gets a new building at the University of Konstanz
Baden-Württemberg supports the establishment of the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior at the University of Konstanz with 60 million euros. The facility is of enormous importance for the state government’s activities on climate protection and in the field of artificial intelligence.
With 58 million euros, Baden-Württemberg will support the establishment of the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Biology on Lake Constance, another two million euros from the state budget are earmarked for costs in connection with the transfer of the property. “The fascinating research there fits in ideally with the country’s activities to protect biodiversity and to expand the various areas of application of artificial intelligence and is of enormous importance to us. We are thus further strengthening our excellent, interdisciplinary and networked science. It is really exciting and valuable work that is being done on Lake Constance, ”said Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann. With the establishment of the new institute in 2019 and the decision to relocate to the university campus in Konstanz, the Max Planck Society has clearly committed to further expanding the internationally highly regarded research in Konstanz. Along with Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg is one of the states with the most Max Planck facilities. Lighthouse for modern behavioral biology in Constance.
With the special funding decided by the cabinet totaling 58 million euros for the new building to house the institute, the state is making its contribution so that the focus can develop further. “In the past few years a beacon for modern behavioral biology has developed in Konstanz, which is already attracting the best young talents to Baden-Württemberg,” said Science Minister Theresia Bauer. “The researchers at the Max Planck Institute and the university show how old questions about the migratory behavior of animals or decision-making in animal groups can be solved with the help of the latest technology and the use of artificial intelligence methods for data analysis. At the same time, the researchers in Konstanz never lose sight of the further application perspectives of their findings. “
Wildlife observation from space For example, the space-based animal observation system ICARUS (“International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space”) enables continuous, worldwide observation of animal migrations, which can answer important questions about the ecological interrelationships of our planet and help to better protect animals. This is a joint project of the institute and the University of Konstanz in cooperation with the Russian space agency Roskosmos and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). In addition, the data can also be used to predict the pathways of animal disease vectors (e.g. migratory birds – bird flu; fruit bats – Ebola) or to analyze flight behavior as a warning system for natural disasters (e.g. volcanic eruptions, tsunamis).
The knowledge about the complex behavior patterns and mechanisms with which swarms of animals coordinate or decisions are made in animal groups, which are obtained in Constance using modern tracking technology and data analysis, are not limited to the animal world. Deciphering the principles of group and movement decisions offers wide-ranging applications, from predicting the movements of important crop destroyers (e.g. swarms of locusts) to new starting points for understanding human group behavior (e.g. during mass panics) as well as for the construction of autonomous robots.
Just like the two directors Prof. Martin Wikelski (Department “Animal Migration”) in 2008 and Prof. Iain Couzin (“Collective Behavior”) in 2015, the third director of the institute, Prof. Meg Crofoot (“Ecology of Animal Societies”) became appointed together with the University of Konstanz last year. Close cooperation between the MPI and the university, as with Cyber Valley Minister Theresia Bauer sees this close cooperation between the Max Planck Institute (MPI) and the university as an essential reason for the successful establishment of a focus. “The universities can often only attract and retain internationally sought-after top researchers if they work with a non-university partner.
The research at the MPI, which is strongly geared towards interdisciplinary cooperation, benefits in turn from the expertise and infrastructure of the university. ”Similar to Cyber Valley, where the universities of Tübingen and Stuttgart cooperate with the MPI for Intelligent Systems, a fertile environment for excellent, globally recognized research emerges. “The support of the state government for our new Max Planck Institute is incredibly valuable at a time that is characterized by global pandemics and biodiversity loss,” said Professor Martin Wikelski, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior. “In our international team of swarm intelligence researchers, migration researchers and social scientists, we are tackling precisely these issues that are important to people now. We learn from the natural intelligence of animals and use artificial intelligence for their analysis.
Together with the University of Konstanz, a high-tech site is being built on Lake Constance that will promote Baden-Württemberg’s leading international space technology. Our new institute is unique in the world – we are proud that it can be built in the ‘German Silicon Valley’! ” Scientists from the Max Planck Institute, which at that time was still the branch of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, were instrumental in raising federal funds for a new research building for the research of collective behavior by the university.
The “Center for Visual Computing of Collectives” (VCC) is currently being built on the university campus and is due to be completed in 2021. The university’s “Collective Behavior Research College” would also be inconceivable without the cooperation between the university and the Max Planck Institute. The Cluster of Excellence has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Research since January 2019 as part of the Excellence Strategy and was essential for the university’s status of excellence.
The new building for the new MPI is to be built near the university, and construction is scheduled to start in mid-2023. The Max Planck Society (MPG) is assuming total construction costs of over 65 million euros. The amount exceeding the state’s financial contribution will be contributed by the MPG, which is financed jointly by the federal and state governments. In addition to the special financing of 58 million euros, the state is providing the MPG with the property on the university grounds at a symbolic ground rent of 100 euros per year. A further two million euros from the state budget are planned for costs in connection with the transfer of the property.
The MPI’s employees are currently housed in the institute’s rooms in Radolfzell, in the university and in rented space. The planned new building will give the new institute a face and give the institute’s scientists the space they need for their research
Adapted from Land Baden-Württemberg Pressemitteilung