Professor Sonia Kleindorfer


College of Science and Engineering

place Physical Sciences Building (2303C)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Prof. Sonia Kleindorfer is an organismal systems biologist with a research focus on how animal behaviour shapes evolutionary dynamics in birds and parasites. She did her university study at University of Pennsylvania (Bachelor: Biological Basis of Behaviour), University of Vienna (PhD: Zoology) and University of Washington School of Medicine (Postdoc).


PhD, University of Vienna

BA, University of Pennsylvania

Higher Education Advanced Leadership Program, graduate (National Excellence in Educational Leadership Initiative, Melbourne)

Honours, awards and grants

D. L. Serventy Medal 2016, awarded by BirdLife Australia for outstanding research on birds

Key responsibilities
  • Vice-President, Royal Society of South Australia (2018)
  • Treasurer, Royal Society of South Australia (2017-2018)
  • Head, BirdLab (2004-present)
Research expertise
Animal behaviour
Biodiversity conservation
Evolutionary biology
Research interests

My interdisciplinary research addresses the role of prenatal experience for phenotypic variation, which I study in birds. The research program spans the fields of animal behaviour, evolutionary biology, ontogeny, cognitive biology, and neurobiology. I explore fundamental principles of biological organisation to discover mechanisms of information processing established during ontogeny and functional outcomes of in-nest experience that affect survival.

Teaching interests

My teaching expertise is in animal behaviour, evolutionary ecology, and conservation. All are areas of active research for which I am Chief Investigator on national and international projects. In my teaching, I use case studies from cutting-edge and current research so that undergraduate students get a feel for "science in action". The genuine enthusiasm that I feel for the process of scientific discovery fuels my teaching. My teaching approaches are underscored by the following basic beliefs: (1) learning outcomes need to be differentially based on the level of study, (2) assessment needs to reflect learning outcomes, (3) students need support to achieve learning outcomes, (4) teaching needs to be responsive to students while also being explicit about the expected learning outcomes, (5) topics should foster the learning of generic skills that are applicable to a broad range of situations, and (6) understanding processes is as important as understanding concepts and methods. 

Topic coordinator
BIOL2721 Foundations of Animal Behaviour
BIOL1711 Introduction to Animal Behaviour
Topic lecturer
BIOL3721 Research in Animal Behaviour
BIOL3700 Biology Research Projects
Supervisory interests
Animal behaviour
Behavioural ecology
Biodiversity conservation
Molecular ecology
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Animal Behaviour (15)
Associate supervisor: Animal Behavioural and Molecular Ecology (2)
Expert for media contact
Animal Behaviour
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Behaviour
  • Birds
  • Ecology
  • Animal Behaviour

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