Migrant Landbird Study Group

Promoting collaborative research for migratory landbirds across flyways

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Bird Migration Research Station, University of Gdańsk

Study species: Passerines

Research topics: Climate Change; Migration; Migration routes; Migratory connectivity; Moult

Institution location: Bird Migration Research Station, University of Gdańsk

The Bird Migration Research Stationis a research and teaching department in the faculty of biology at the University of Gdańsk. Our research focuses on determining the biology, ecology and morphology of birds during their non-breeding season, especially on migration, to identify the relationships between migration and other elements of their life cycle, and to monitor populations of migratory birds. Our studies focus on passerines as models in studies of migration, but we are also interested in movements of birds from other groups. Operation Baltic, conducted since 1960 at the Polish Baltic coast, is our stations’ main long-term research and monitoring project. Modelling long-term trends in numbers, and changes in the timing and features of bird migrations, in response to changes in environment, including climate change, is a key part of our research. We conduct projects in Poland and abroad, focusing on different aspects of bird movements along their main migration routes. Our research projects merge the efforts of ornithologists and citizen scientists, and involve students and volunteers. During our project we disseminate knowledge about birds to nature lovers of all ages and all nationalities.The Bird Migration Research Station (BMRS) is a research and teaching department in the Faculty of Biology at the University of Gdańsk in Poland. It was established as the Operation Baltic unit in the Department of Animal Ecology at the University of Gdańsk on 1 October 1979 for Dr Przemysław Busse, who brought to Gdańsk the Operation Baltic research project. Operation Baltic is a network of three bird ringing stations Mierzeja Wiślana, Bukowo-Kopań and Hel at the Baltic coast, which operated since 1961 to this day. In 1981 the Bird Migration Research Station was created with Prof. Busse as its head, and the Operation Baltic as its main research project. The offices were initially located 60 km north-west of Gdańsk, in Przebendowo. In 2012, our offices moved to the new building of the Faculty of Biology at the university’s main campus in Gdańsk-Oliwa. To this day Operation Baltic has collected more than 1,5 million records in its database of ringed and re-trapped birds. Each record includes more than 40 standardised measurements along with supplementary information, which is the world’s largest database of vertebrate measurements collected in a standardised way over more than sixty years. The results have been presented in over 300 research papers, several PhD theses, and tens of MSc and BSc projects. The methodology of fieldwork has been summarised in the Bird Ringing Station Manual (Busse & Meissner 2015). Until 2009, the Station was also the editorial office for an international research journal The Ring. Prof. Przemysław Busse retired from the university in 2007, when  Dr Jarosław K. Nowakowski took over his role. He has secured funding for the BMRS, which has been supported since 2011 by the Poland’s Ministry of Education and Science as a special research facility. In 2013, Dr Magdalena Remisiewicz was appointed as the head of the BMRS. Her collaboration with Prof. Les Underhill, the Head of the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, has extended the focus of our studies into African winter quarters of the Palearctic migrants, with annual international research expeditions to South Africa since 2013. In 2016–2019 the BMRS received a research grant from the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) in Poland and National Research Centre (NRF) in South Africa, in partnership with the ADU at the University of Cape Town, to build “an early warning system for biodiversity in the face of development and climate change” in both countries, with migrant birds serving as indicators of the effects of changing climate on biodiversity. We set up such system, which is now in Poland based on the three Operation Baltic stations, and five other stations of the Polish Network of the Bird Ringing stations (KSSOP). Today, our unit and our three ic field stations serve as a national and international training centre in bird migration research, with a  wide national and international network of collaborators. Operation Baltic continues monitoring and research of migrant birds, keeping pace with modern trends in ornithology and applying new methods. More information at: