Dr. Fanny Rybak

Associate Professor - UPS

Université Paris Sud, bat.446
91405 Orsay cedex


Research Interest

My present research interests deal with acoustic communication networks in birds and species-specific acoustic signatures in ants.

I was very happy to supervise the PhD research of Elodie Briefer on the coding-decoding systems of group and individual identities in skylarks. Skylarks constitute an ideal model for studying acoustic rules signing group identity. Males hold adjacent territories and produce one of the most complex song in Oscines to defend them. The territories are gathered in discrete patches due to the heterogeneity of the habitat, and the spatial distribution of the birds is associated to a micro-dialect phenomenon. We studied the relationships of males belonging to the same micro-dialect area and the discrimination of familiar (neighbours) and non-familiar (strangers) individuals. Elodie found very interesting results and working with her was a pleasure!

At the moment I am also strongly interested by the acoustic communication system of a non-oscine bird, the houbara bustards. Males display a courtship behaviour including visual and acoustic signals on particular field sites, spaced by hundred of meters. They produce of a very low frequency sound by “booming” which can potentially propagate at very long distance. Our aim is to study the function of this booming sound in intra-sexual competition and in inter-sexual attraction.

Keeping in touch with my former animals of interest (I used to study Drosophila courtship song for my PhD), I am also involved in the supervising of the PhD project of Ronara Suza Ferreira about sounds produced by stridulation in ants of the genus Pachycondyla. We study the acoustic signals along the whole transmission channel of information, from their production to their reception. Furthermore, as the taxonomy of the Pachycondyla apicalis species complex is an unsettled problem, we study if the morphometry of the stridulatory apparatus and the acoustic parameters of the stridulations of these ants could serve as a tool for discriminating cryptic taxa.

Current Projects & Collaborations

- Emirates Center for Wildlife Propagation (ECWP, Missour, Morocco, Y. Hingrat) :
Acoustic communication in houbara bustards.

- Laboratoire d’Ethologie Expérimentale et Comparée (LEEC, CNRS UMR7153, Université Paris 13, D. Fresneau & R. Suza Ferreira) : Stridulations in ants Pachycondyla


- Lectures and practical in Animal Biology and Behavioural Biology from L1 to M2 level.

- Administrative and pedagogic responsibilities for the following courses:

    * Biol 150 : Structures and functions : from cell to organ (1st year of undergraduate)
    * Biol 152 : Ethology (1st year of undergraduate)
    * Biol 364 : Practical in the field in Biology and Geology (3rd year of undergraduate)

Some Selected Publications

Briefer, E., Rybak, F. and Aubin, T. (2013) The role of shared phrases in skylark song: true syntax or simple auditory object? Animal Behavior.

Linossier, J., Rybak, F., Aubin, T. and Geberzahn N. (2013) Flight phases in the song of skylarks: impact on acoustic parameters and coding strategy. PLoS ONE e72768 ; doi:10.1371/j.pone.0072768

Briefer E., Rybak F. and Aubin T. (2008). When to be a dear-enemy : Flexible acoustic relationships of neighbouring skylarks Alauda arvensis. Animal Behaviour. In press

Briefer E., Aubin T., Lehongre K. and Rybak F., 2008. How to identify dear enemies: the group signature in the complex song of the skylark Alauda arvensis. Journal of Experimental Biology, 211: 317-326.

Any questions or remarks on our website, please contact the webmaster