Dr Claudia Wascher

Associate Professor
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Life Sciences
Areas of Expertise:
Animal and environmental biology
Research Supervision:

Claudia, is a behavioural ecologist experienced in social cognition and physiology, interested in the evolution of cooperation as well as costs and benefits of social behaviour.

[email protected]

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Claudia joined the School of Life Sciences in September 2015 and is a member of the Behavioural Ecology Research Group.

Claudia conducted her PhD investigating social modulation of heart rate in greylag geese at the Konrad-Lorenz research station in Austria. After her PhD she broadened her expertise in the field of social cognition, investigating cognitive mechanisms underlying cooperation in carrion crows and ravens.

She has held several post-doctoral periods in international labs (CNRS Strasbourg, NTNU Trondheim, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology Seewiesen, University of Valladolid).

Previously, Claudia was chair of our Animal and Environmental Biology Group’s Research Ethics Committee and a member of the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s Research Ethics Committee.

Claudia is the Faculty lead for Athena SWAN.

Research interests
  • Evolution of social behaviour
  • Proximate mechanisms underpinning social behaviour
  • Social physiology
  • Social cognition
  • Evolution of cooperation
  • Competition in animal groups
  • Vocal communication
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Areas of research supervision

Claudia welcomes enquiries from prospective research students in the areas of her research interests.

2022 – Rachel Ownsworth, 1st Supervisor – ‘The leaky pipeline: Analysing cause and impact of interventionist methods in Science and Engineering’

2021 – Sam Reynolds, 1st Supervisor – ‘Vocal communication in corvids’

2019 – Fiene Steinbrecher, Co-Supervisor – ‘The effect of the acoustic environment on captive pied tamarins’

Complete (2017 – 2022) Max Kerney, Co-Supervisor – ‘What drove primate brain evolution? An analysis of competing hypotheses’

Complete (2016 – 2021) Denise Hebesberger, 1st Supervisor – ‘Benefits of social bonds in horses’


BSc (Hons) Zoology

BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour

BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation

MSc Animal Behaviour Applications for Conservation

  • PhD Zoology, University of Vienna, Austria
  • MSc Biology and Environmental Science, University of Graz, Austria
Memberships, editorial boards

Editorial board member:

  • Animal Behaviour (2018 – 2020)
  • Avian Biology Research (2014 - ongoing)
  • Royal Society Open Science (September 2017- ongoing)
  • Frontiers in Comparative Psychology (May 2017 - ongoing)
Selected recent publications

Wascher, C.A.F., Arnold, W. & Kotrschal, K. (2022). Effects of severe anthropogenic disturbance onto heart rate and body temperature in free-living greylag geese (Anser anser). Conservation Physiology, 10(1), coac050.

Logan, C.J., McCune, K.B., MacPherson, M., Johnson-Ulrich, Z., Rowney, C., Seitz, B., Blaisdell, A.P., Deffner, D., & Wascher, C.A.F. (2022). Are the more flexible great-tailed grackles also better at behavioral inhibition? Animal Behavior and Cognition, 9(1), 14-36

Wascher, C.A.F., Allen, K. & Szipl, G. (2021). Learning and motor inhibitory control in crows and domestic chickens. Royal Society Open Science, 8, 210504210504

Wascher, C.A.F., Baur, N., Hengl, M., Köck, C., Pegger, T., Schindlbauer, J., & Wemer, L. (2021). Behavioural responses of captive corvids to the presence of visitors. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 8(4), 481-492.

Wascher, C.A.F. (2021). Heart rate as a measure of emotional arousal in evolutionary biology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 376, 20200479.

Khan, N., & Wascher, C.A.F. (2021). Considering generalizability: A lesson from auditory enrichment research on zoo animals. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 8(2), 251-262.

Wascher C.A.F. 2021. Association between social factors and gastrointestinal parasite product excretion in a group of non-cooperatively breeding carrion crows. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 75, 30

Dufour V., Broihanne M.-H. & Wascher C.A.F. (2020). Corvids avoid odd evaluation by following simple rules in a risky exchange task. Ethology, 126(2), 153-164.

Wascher C.A.F., Feider B., Bugnyar T. & Dufour V. (2020). Crows and common ravens do not reciprocally exchange tokens with a conspecific to gain food rewards. Ethology, 126(2), 278-287.

Frigerio D., Hemetsberger F. & Wascher C.A.F. (2019). How having a partner and a family changes the stress levels of graylag geese. Frontiers for Young Minds, 7:68. doi: 10.3389/frym.2019.00068

Safryghin A., Hebesberger D.V. & Wascher C.A.F. (2019). Testing for behavioral and physiological responses of domestic horses (Equus caballus) across different contexts – consistency over time and effects of context. Frontiers in Comparative Psychology 10, 849, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00849.

Miller R., Boeckle M., Jelbert S.A., Frohnwieser A., Wascher C.A.F. & Clayton N.S. (2019). Self-control in crows, parrots and non-human primates. WIREs Cognitive Science, e1504, DOI: 10.1002/wcs.1504.

Szipl G., Loth A., Wascher C.A.F., Hemetsberger J., Kotrschal K., Frigerio D. (2019). Parental behaviour and family proximity as key to gosling survival in Greylag geese (Anser anser). Journal of Ornithology, 160, 473–483.

Halsey L.G., Green J.A., Twiss S.D., Arnold W., Burthe S.J., Butler P.J., Cooke S.J., Grémillet D., Ruf T., Hicks O., Minta K.J., Prystay T.S., Wascher C.A.F., & Careau V. (2019). Flexibility, variability and constraint in energy management patterns across vertebrate taxa revealed by long-term heart rate measurements. Functional Ecology, 33 (2).260-272, in press, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13264.

Wascher C.A.F., Canestrari D. & Baglione V. (2019). Affiliative social relationships and coccidian oocyst excretion in a cooperatively breeding bird species. Animal Behaviour, 158, 121-130.

Broihanne M.H., Romain A., Call J., Thierry B., Wascher C.A.F., De Marco A., Verrier D., Dufour V. Monkeys (Sapajus apella and Macaca tonkeana) and great apes (Gorilla gorilla, Pongo pygmaeus, Pan paniscus and Pan troglodytes) play for the highest bid. Journal of Comparative Psychology, in press.

Wascher C.A.F. , Kulahci, I.G. , Langley E. & Shaw R. (2018). How does cognitive performance shape patterns of social relationships? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 373, p.20170293. These authors contributed equally to this study.

Kirk J. & Wascher C.A.F. (2018). Temporal modification of social interactions in response to changing group demographics and offspring maturation in African lions (Panthera leo). Behavioural Processes: in press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2018.06.006

Puehringer-Sturmayr V., Wascher C.A.F., Loretto M.-C., Palme R., Stoewe M., Kotrschal K., Frigerio D. (2018). Seasonal differences of corticosterone metabolite concentrations and parasite burden in northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita): The role of affiliative interactions. PLoS ONE, 13(1), p.e0191441. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191441.  

Wascher C.A.F., Kotrschal K. & Walter A. (2018). Free-living Greylag geese adjust their heart rates and body core temperatures to season and reproductive context. Scientific Reports, 8, p.2142.

Wascher C.A.F. (2018). Corvids. In: Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior, eds. Vonk J. and Shackelford, T.K. Springer. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1799-1

Wascher C.A.F., Hemetsberger J., Kotrschal K. & Frigerio D. (2017). Leucocyte profiles and social context in juvenile greylag geese (Anser anser). Avian Biology Research, 10 (4), pp. 246–252.

Ludwig S.C., Kapetanopoulos K., Kotrschal K. & Wascher C.A.F. (2017). Mate separation induces immunosuppression and increases parasite load in free-living female Greylag geese. Behavioural Processes, 138, pp.134–141.

Frigerio, D., Ludwig, S.C., Hemetsberger, J., Kotrschal, K. & Wascher, C.A.F. (2017). Social and environmental factors modulate leucocyte profiles in free-living Greylag geese (Anser anser). PeerJ 5:e2792; DOI 10.7717/peerj.2792

Frigerio D., Cibulski L., Ludwig S.C., Campderrich I., Kotrschal K. & Wascher C.A.F. (2016). Parasite excretion patterns during the reproductive season in Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita). Journal of Ornithology, 157, pp.839-851.

Wascher, C.A.F., Hillemann, F., Canestrari, D., and Baglione, V. (2015). Carrion crows learn to discriminate between calls of reliable and unreliable conspecifics. Animal Cognition, 18, pp.1181-1185.

Szipl, G., Boeckle, M., Spreafico, M., Wascher, C.A.F. and Bugnyar, T. (2015) With whom to dine? Common ravens are attracted by yells of affiliates and consider signallers rank. Animal Behaviour, 99, pp.33-42.

Wascher, C.A.F. (2015) Individual performance in socio-cognitive tasks predicts social performance in carrion crows. Behaviour, 152, pp.615–634.

Wascher, C.A.F., Heiss, R., Baglione, V. and Canestrari, D. (2015) Behavioural responses to olfactory cues in social contexts in carrion crows (Corvus corone corone). Behavioural Processes, 111, pp.1-5.

Dorn, S., Wascher, C.A.F. and Kotrschal, K. (2014) Ambient temperature and air pressure modulate hormones and behavior in Greylag geese (Anser anser) and Northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita). Behavioural Processes, 108, pp.27-35.

Cibulski, L., Wascher, C.A.F., Weiß, B.M. and Kotrschal, K. (2014). Familiarity with the experimenter influences the performance of Common ravens (Corvus corax) and Carrion crows (Corvus corone corone) in cognitive tasks. Behavioural Processes, 103, pp.129-137.

Hillemann, F., Bugnyar, T., Kotrschal, K. and Wascher, C.A.F. (2014) Waiting for better, not for more: corvids respond to quality in two delay maintenance tasks. Animal Behaviour,90, pp.1-10.     

Wascher, C.A.F., Valdez, J.W., Nuñez, C., Baglione, V. and Canestrari, D. (2014) Social factors modulating attention patterns in carrion crows (Corvus corone corone). Behaviour,151, pp.555-572.

Teschke, I., Wascher, C.A.F., Scriba, M., von Bayern, A., Huml, V., Siemers, B. & Tebbich, S. (2013) Did tool-use evolve with enhanced physical cognitive abilities? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 368.

Wascher, C.A.F. and Bugnyar, T. (2013) Awareness to inequity and working effort in carrion crows (Corvus corone corone) and common ravens (Corvus corax). PLoS ONE, 8, e56885.

Wascher, C.A.F. and Kotrschal, K. (2013) The costs of sociality measured through heart rate modulation. In: The Social Life of Greylag Geese. Patterns, Mechanisms and Evolutionary Function in an Avian Model System, eds. I.B.R. Scheiber, B. Weiß, J. Hemetsberger and K. Kotrschal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: pp.142-155.

Wascher, C.A.F., Bauer, A.C., Holtmann, A.R. and Kotrschal, K. (2012) Environmental and social factors affecting excretion of intestinal parasite eggs and oocysts in a flock of free-living greylag geese (Anser anser). Behavioral Ecology, 23, pp.1276-1283.

Wascher, C.A.F., Dufour, V. and Bugnyar, T. (2012) Carrion crows cannot overcome impulsive choice in a quantitative exchange task. Frontiers in Comparative Psychology, 3, p.118.

Wascher, C.A.F., Szipl, G., Boeckle, M. and Wilkinson, A. (2012) You sound familiar- Carrion crows can differentiate between the calls of known and unknown heterospecifics. Animal Cognition, 15, pp.1015-1019.

Wascher, C.A.F., Weiß, B.M., Arnold, W. and Kotrschal, K. (2012). Physiological implications of pair-bond status in greylag geese. Biology Letters, 8, 347-350.

Dufour, V., Wascher, C.A.F., Braun, A., Miller, R. and Bugnyar, T. (2012) Corvids can decide if a future exchange is worth waiting for. Biology Letters, 8, pp.201-204.

Media experience

Claudia is active in scientific outreach and has been interviewed about her research by the media on several occasions.