Migrant Landbird Study Group

Promoting collaborative research for migratory landbirds across flyways

The MLSG organised a two-day satellite symposium just before the official EOU conference earlier this year in August. We had about 70 official attendees with another 20 or so dropping in informally, particularly on the day the EOU official started. Thirty nine attendees gave presentations – short summaries of these are given below. A visual impression can be found here, more info in text below.

 

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Thursday

Keynote lecture 1: Almut Schlaich on full annual cycle research of Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus)

Speed talks (session 1): 4-minute talks and 2-minute changeover/questions

Keynote lecture 2: Les Underhill on coordinating bird research on a country-wide and continental scale: a Southern African perspective

Parallel workshop sessions

Species Working Group meetings

Informal networking and drinks

 

Friday

Keynote lecture 3: Janne Ouwehand on flexibility in migration and life cycles of pied flycatchers

Speed talks (session 2 and 3)

Keynote lecture 4: Sam Ivande on how to develop ornithological capacity in West-Africa

Introduction to group discussions: key issues in migrant landbird research and conservation (some obvious issues, currently arising issues identified during the conference)

Informal breakout group discussions from priority topics identified in the previous session and reporting back session

MLSG meeting and report back from the management strategy discussion earlier: state of affairs, future prospects and new ExCo members; close of symposium

 

Summaries by Will Cresswell on behalf of the ExCo Dec 2017

 

DETAILS

Workshops

Visualization of bird tracking, movement and range data in R

This was led by Lykke Pedersen. Example graphics were shown and talked through from utility to creating them in R. There were discussion about mapping techniques and their suitability for different audiences. There was discusison about the need to streamline geolocator analyses and the need for a separate geolocator workshop to share analysis best practice.

Effective networking across the flyways IMG 20170817 172250

This was led by Rien van Wijk who introduced the concept of speed dating to get the group networking as rapidly as possible. There was a wider discussion about facilitating networking generally. But in terms of the MLSG symposium – the preaching was practiced succesfully.

 

Tracking: ethics, best practice and innovations

The discussion led by Brian Cresswell included:

  1. Optimal harness fits and light stalk lengths
  2. Catching issues
  3. Use of rollers as a model species for entire flyway tracking
  4. Aerodynamics – not just weight
  5. Publication of tracking mistakes in a way that allows researchers to share best and worst practice in a transparent and non-judgemental way; the possibilities of doing this via the MLSG website
  6. The need for a list of people with species experience and contact details – again the MLSG website could facilitate this

Species working groups: whinchats

The working group led by David Douglas consisted of:

Research talks and general discussion from David Douglas on declining habitat quality explaining whinchat breeding declines; Vanja Michel on apparent survival and breeding success across Europe; Will Cresswell on non-breeding ecology; Malcolm Burgess on migration; Ian Henderson on breeding demography. The final general discussion consisted of the need and then the practicalities of organising a Europe wide breeding demography study. Many separate studies exist but all should be encouraged to monitor annual survival and dispersal through colour ringing studies. These data could then fit into a Europe-wide metapopulation model: sink-source dynamics and (lack of) breeding site fidelity in whinchat may be crucial in the decline of the species.


Talks and research interests of attendees

Below attendees in alphabetical order who gave presentations or who provided the information: their research summaries (1), what they can bring to the MLSG (2) and what they would like from the MLSG (3); where not provided, a short summary of their speed talk or plenary.

Nico Arcilla

  1. I am a conservation biologist at the Crane Trust in the United States. My research focuses on quantifying avian community and population responses to human impacts such as management, invasive species, and climate change. I have recent and/or ongoing projects on migratory birds in the North American Great Plains and on forest birds in West Africa and Latin America, among other places.
  2. I can bring to an MLSG collaboration my bird research experience and contacts in equatorial Africa (Ghana, Togo, Gabon) and Egypt in order to advance study of both resident and migratory birds in these areas (including wintering Palearctic migrants). I can offer support to researchers interested in these areas by providing my knowledge of study sites and putting them in touch with scientists and local contacts who may help facilitate their work in these areas.
  3. I would like to collaborate with others in the MLSG network, especially those involved in or interested in Africa and/or the Middle East, on regional bird ecology research and conservation. I am especially interested in the impacts of forest management (logging, hunting, and related activities) on bird communities and species, and how we can build a support network to raise awareness and encourage action on bird conservation needs through work with local local people and communities.

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Annika Aurbach

  1. Modelling birds’ behaviour with focus on nocturnal passerine migrants. Simulation of broad front migration in high resolution wind field and over complex terrain to better understand bird migration behaviour. Radar data is used as initial boundary condition.
  2. If there are any needs and questions in terms of weather modelling with WRF or programming questions, I am happy to help.
  3. Tracks of nocturnal passerine migrants would be very valuable to validate the migration model in further detail.

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Jacqui Badenhorst

  1. Just starting on the PhD road. Timing of migration of spotted flycatcher and red-backed shrike in Poland and South Africa
  2. Info on timing to & from Poland using ringing data; atlas data in SA from citizen science project; willing assistant/contact if needed in SA.
  3. Possible migration route information on these bird species; contacts working on these spp in Europe & Africa.

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Mathieu Boos  

Research Agency in Applied Ecology, Naturaconst, France
Ecophysiologist. Using radar to study migration and ground truthing migration rates estimated by radar; the phenology of migration.

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Martins Briedis

  1. I just finished my PhD at Palacky University (Czech Republic) and I am freshly starting a post-doc at Swiss Ornithological Institute. For my PhD I tracked multiple long-distance migrants using geolocators and my research focuses on migration in the context of the full annual cycles. I am particularly interested in the concept of migratory connectivity from a spatio-temporal viewpoint, links between different annual phases, and interactions between the environment and migrants.
  2. I can contribute with expertise/help in geolocator data analyses. And if anyone is seeking collaborators in the Baltic states and Central Europe I could help in finding/contacting local ornithologists and bird ringers in these regions.
  3. I would like to find and get in touch with people working on the the same or similar species that I work with to share experiences, ideas and hopefully work on some joint projects in the future. MLSG environment can also serve as a good catalyst for new project ideas inspired form other members' work.

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Malcolm Burgess           

RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, United Kingdom

Breeding biology of migrants such as the Pied Flycatcher and Whinchat in the UK; tagging these migrant species in both breeding and non-breeding areas.

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http://www.piedfly.net/

Przemyslaw Busse

Bird Migration Research Foundation, Poland

57 years of bird migration studies. Primary member of SEEN – South East European Bird Migration Network. Originator of the Busse cage method of determining migratory orientation in the field.

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Patrik Byholm  

Novia University of Applied Sciences, Finland

GPS tracking of Finnish Honey Buzzards. Place and time of mortality during the annual cycle; role of human-caused mortality (i.e. hunting).

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Will Cresswell

University of St Andrews, Scotland; AP Leventis Ornithological Research Institute (APLORI), Jos, Nigeria; EXCO MLSG

  1. I carry out basic ornithological research into the factors determining the density and distribution of Palearctic migrants in the non-breeding season (predominantly in West Africa). I use geolocators on Whinchats and Cyprus Wheatears, but also have research undergoing on habitat use, ecological requirements, survival and site fidelity of non-breeding Northern Wheatears, Common Whitethroats, Nightingales, Pied Flycatchers, Tree Pipits and Yellow Wagtails. I am also heavily involved in capacity building for conservation and ornithology within West Africa through training at APLORI.
  2. I can contribute contacts and ability to carry out field-work in Nigeria, based at APLORI. Expertise in fieldwork methodologies and logistics on the non-breeding ground. I can facilitate collaborations with trained ornithologists within West Africa.
  3. Contacts with and awareness of all landbird migration workers and their work (particularly those that work in the non-breeding area) so that we can integrate our various findings into useful, general recommendations and overall migration theories to better understand what will happen with climate and habitat change.

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https://aplori.org/

Carles Carboneras                       

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, United Kingdom; EXCO MLSG

RSPB International migrants program. Special focus of research on turtle dove, wood warbler, common swift, common cuckoo, common nightingale, whinchat, spotted flycatcher, tree pipit, yellow wagtail, pied flycatcher

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David Douglas

RSPB, UK

Whinchat declines in the UK uplands; Whinchats as species of conservation concern in the UK

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Jenny Dunn

University of Lincoln, United Kingdom

Epidemiology of parasites and diseases, particularly in turtle doves. With PhD student Becca Young; blod parasite distribution in pigeons.

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Jaanus Elts

  1. Currently I am working mainly on farmland birds (habitat use, conservation issues). Main species are Eurasian Curlew and Ortolan Bunting, but also Red-backed Shrike, Corncrake.
  2. Our GPS loggers on curlews are taking positions a year around. Even we ourselves are working mainly on habitat use here in Estonia, we still get positions from migration routes and wintering areas (e.g. from UK, The Netherlands, Denmark). This data may be of interest for other colleagues working mainly on e.g. wintering habitat use.
    Also, I am coordinating the nest card scheme in Estonia - this data may have value when assessing long term changes in breeding success etc.
  3. Collaboration as above

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Kiraz Erciyas-Yavuz                      

Ondokuz Mayis University, Ornithological Research Centre, Turkey

Stop-over behaviour of migrants on the Kizilimak Delta; departure decision

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Ruben Evans

  1. I'm a PhD-student at Hasselt University (Belgium), studying the foraging behaviour of European Nighjars in relation to habitat heterogeneity. I also study the migration of these nocturnal birds in order to identify important stop-over sites and wintering areas and learn more about migratory decisions these birds have to make.
  2. Open minded research-conversations, enthusiasm, willingness to study migration; Various research areas throughout Europe.Experience with tracking data, GIS, blood sampling, tracking.
  3. Collaborators (not necessarily for Nightjars) in Europe and Africa (Central and Western Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo). Opportunities for future migration research.

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Martin U. Grüebler                      

Swiss Ornithological Institute, Switzerland

Natal dispersal. Habitat use in agricultural landscapes. Whinchat breeding and population dynamics.

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Wieland Heim

  1. My name is Wieland Heim and I´m studying population trends and migration routes of Eastern Palaearctic landbirds. Since 2011 I´m coordinating the Amur Bird Project in Far East Russia.
  2. I can offer experience in bird trapping, ringing and census methods.
  3. Currently I´m looking for funding opportunities and cooperation partners for projects on birds migrating eastward to Asia.

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Gudrun Hilgerloh

  1. I have worked on songbird migration and the weather effects on density, flight altitude, directions and call rates of migrating birds on Helgoland, in Switzerland, in Gibraltar and in Portugal. I have studied feeding ecology at stopover sites in Spain, Morocco, Senegal and Egypt. I have studied raptor migration in Egypt at Zait bay and in Ain Sokhna, near Suez. I have also worked on the feeding ecology of birds feeding on blue mussels in the tidal flats of Germany. In an Irish estuary, I have studied predation by birds in oyster cultures. In my last project I did research on the flight altitudes of arctic geese in their East Friesian wintering area. At the moment I am studying songbird migration on the Canary Islands.
  2. I am in possession of a ship’s radar and can supply radar observations of any bird species
  3. I would welcome any exchange of ideas on migration and would appreciate some support with respect to new analysis software.

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gudrun_Hilgerloh/publications

http://www.migration-hilgerloh.de/

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Samuel Ivande

AP Leventis Ornithological Research Institute, Jos Nigeria

Plenary Speaker 4: How to become an ornithologist in Nigeria.

Citizen science, training, capacity building and the Nigerian Bird Atlas project. PhD studies on the non-breeding ecology of Palearctic migrants (whinchat, pied flycatcher, tree pipit, willow warbler)

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Orsolya Kiss

  1. I'm Orsolya Kiss, I did my PhD about European roller in Hungary. Now, I am working for the University of Szeged and BirdLife Hungary (MME). BirdLife Hungary/MME is the coordinating beneficiary of Roller Life project (http://www.rollerproject.eu/en), the project leader is Béla Tokody.
  2. As collaboration, we can share our experiences on field work/ use of different kind of tracking devices and take part in meeting organisation (of course, it depends on the financial situation).
  3. It would be very useful for us to meet/work with people in Africa (researchers and professional/amateur ornithologists), especially Botswana, Angola, Namibia, Chad to help us reveal what happens with the rollers during the non-breeding season. Meetings, just like the latest one, would be also useful.

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Jari Korhonen  

Amateur ornithologist, University of Turku, Finland

Whinchats and enthusiasm.

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Aleksi Lehikoinen

  1. I coordinate the Finnish common bird monitoring and lead the Helsinki Lab of Ornithology research group in the University of Helsinki. The main research focus is impacts of climate change and land use on bird populations (https://www.luomus.fi/fi/helsinki-lab-ornithology). I am also the manager of the Hanko Bird Observatory (http://www.tringa.fi/hangon-lintuasema/hankodata/)
  2. I can bring to the MLSG especially population information from the European breeding grounds in collaboration with European Bird Census Council, EBCC, where I am one of the board members.
  3. Understanding the population dynamics in European long-distance migrants requires information about conditions in the (African) wintering grounds. Here international collaboration is essential.

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Ivan Maggini

  1. I am the scientific coordinator of the bird ringing scheme in Austria. In addition, I am a migration ecophysiologist, mostly interested in aspects linked to stopover ecology, but also to the overall organization of migration and to the different strategies adopted by different species/populations to migrate.
  2. I have a broad knowledge of methods that can be used to assess the physiological state of birds and have a vast experience with fieldwork all over the migratory range of Palearctic and Nearctic migrants, especially Passerines. I could support researchers that have interest in assessing physiological parameters in their study species. In addition, I work at several study sites spread along the migration route (at the moment Austria, Italy, and Morocco) and have established research stations there. I can provide logistic support to researchers interested in these sites.
  3. I am deeply interested in studying some of the physiological aspects during the winter, too. I could profit from the MLSG in having logistic support at such sites if needed. I could also profit from the wide experience of many of the members with long-distance tracking to identify challenges along the road and stimulate on-site research on the physiological aspects of my interest (at the moment, especially water balance and refuelling).

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John Mallord

RSPB Centre for Conservation Science,   UK

Basic ornithological research on the ecological requirements of Palearctic migrants in Africa, with a particular focus on wood warblers.

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Gintaras Malmiga                        

Nature research center, Lithuania

PhD student. Great Reed Warbler, tagging adults and juveniles, activity loggers and tracking

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Rachel Muheim

  1. My main research interests include the orientation and navigation of birds, and more specifically (1) the behavioural and physiological mechanisms of magnetoreception and polarized light reception, (2) compass hierarchy and calibration of different compasses (magnetic compass, star, sun compass and polarized light information), (3) the feasibility of different compass routes, i.e., which compass strategies do lead migrants to their destinations, and (4) stopover behavior of passerine migrants at Falsterbo peninsula in southernmost Sweden.
  2. My approaches to simulate migration routes based on different compasses can be used to evaluate the role of navigation in available tracking data, i.e., to identify possible compasses used by the tracked birds.
  3. Forum to localize potential collaborators, exchange of ideas, meetings,…

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Thérèse Nore & Pascal Cavallin

  1. For over 30 years, we have been involved in the study of a small population of Booted Eagles (Aquila pennata), in SW France, along River Dordogne’s valley. As roughly 2 / 3 of the territories have been impacted at least once by human activities, we mean to determine activity areas of individuals, and relevant habitats, which ensure reproductive success, in order to protect them. Therefore, we have trapped a few adults, and fitted them with transmitters, and learnt much about their home ranges in summer and winter, and their migration flyways.
  2. & 3. We could exchange news and advice with other ornithologists studying this species (or migratory species of the same size) : results about home range and migration, trapping devices and most accurate transmitters.

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Janne Ouwehand                         

University of Groningen, Netherlands

Plenary speaker 3 : Migration and annual cycle flexibility in pied flycatchers

Annual cycle adaptation to climate change in long-distance migrants. How non-breeding environmental conditions affect subsequent annual cycle events.

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Lykke Pedersen

University of Copenhagen; EXCO MLSG

  1. I am Lykke Pedersen, PhD student at the University of Copenhagen. I use tracking data from migratory songbirds (geolocators, activity loggers and radio transmitters) to reveal their spatio-temporal migratory patterns. Mainly, my studies have focused on the red-backed shrike. I am also interested in the evolution of bird migration and use species distribution models to understand bird movements to environmental conditions in the past.
  2. I can bring lots of enthusiasm, ideas and my analytical skills, in particular related to the analysis of geolocator data.
  3. I am interested in collaborations across the flyways on all questions related to the ecology and evolution of songbird migration. I need MLSG symposia, workshops, networking events etc. to facilitate this.

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Sirke Piirainen

  1. I'm a PhD student working on modelling endangered species abundances based on multi-source environmental data (climate and land cover change scenarios). Based on my model I will try to predict which species might become endangered in the future.
  2. In the future (as I progress in my studies) I can offer help in modelling species distribution and abundance.
  3. From MLSG I wish for support in starting my career, meeting people from various fields, innovative ideas and, maybe later on, more detailed workshops on areas related to my study.

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Magdalena Remisiewicz

My research interest are the place of moult in bird annual cycle, focused on wader and passerine migrants. My team of the Bird Migration Research Station, University of Gdansk, Poland, conducts standardised ringing and measuring of spring and autumn migrants at three stations at the Polish coast (Operation Baltic, 1961-…). We coordinate the Polish Network of 8 Bird Ringing Stations. Together with Prof. Les Underhill, Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town, South Africa, we co-lead a collaboration project „Building an Early Warning System for Biodiversity in the Face of Climate Change” (2016-2018), showing that migrant birds serve as indicators of change at both ends of their flyways. Our projects merge the efforts of ornithologists and citizen scientists.

e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

http://www.sbwp.ug.edu.pl/

Alice Risely                      

PhD student at Deakin University, Australia.

Infection affects migration performance in shorebirds, but with small effects. Very low infection rates for migrant shorebirds

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Jelmer  Samplonius       

University of Groningen, Netherlands

Phenology chnages leading to differences in competition between titts and pied flycatchers for nest boxes: tits are more flexible than flycatchers measured across 10 European sites.

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Samuel Temidayo Osinubi (Dayo)

Fitz Institute, Cape Town; EXCO MLSG

  1. My name is Samuel Temidayo Osinubi (Dayo) and I am a postdoctoral fellow at the FitzPatrick Institute at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. I am exploring genetic relatedness, phenotypic variation, movement and connectivity, as well as habitat use and phenology in intra-African migrant landbirds across western, eastern and southern Africa.
  2. I can provide a bridge to some sites, institutions and key individuals on the African continent.
  3. From the MLSG, I will like collaborative support in establishing and maintaining a multi-institutional academic research programme to facilitate the development of indigenous research capacity that then provides a treasure trove of data on intra-African migrant bird species.

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Başak Şentürk

I am Başak Şentürk from Turkey. As being a bird watcher for a while and volunteering/working in some projects related to birds and other biodiversity and conservation related subjects, I have been working as an environmental Consultant for the last 3 years. 

I think I represent some different parts in MLSG both being in the Eastern flyway and being working in the consultancy sector for decision making of the lenders. So, I hope to be a some sort of decoder between the academical studies and the environmental consultancy language and be a bridge for the Eastern flyway.

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Almut E. Schlaich                         

Dutch Montagu's Harrier Foundation, The Netherlands

Plenary Speaker 1: Tracking Montagu’s Harriers throughout their annual cycle, European breeding; non-breeding and roosts; migration routes and challenges

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Wouter Vansteelant                   

CGE (IBED), University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands; EXCO MLSG

Tracking of raptors; honey buzzards and lesser spotted eagles; ongoing collaborations with Bernd Meyburg; citizen science and counting raptors at Batumi, Georgia.

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http://www.batumiraptorcount.org/

Alexander Thomas                      

University of Leipzig, Germany

Yellow-breasted Bunting

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Les Underhill

Plenary Speaker 2: The African Bird Atlas projects. Making atlases and designing data collection to engae people as well as being statistically tractable   ”gamefication”.

Director of the Animal Demography Unit (ADU), a research unit based at the University of Cape Town, and he is responsible for the overall running of the project. He is an experienced campaigner in terms of bird atlasing projects, co-authoring the 1989 'Atlas of the birds of the South-western Cape' and being an integral part of the SABAP1 project management team.

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http://sabap2.adu.org.za/

Ülo Väli

Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia

Lesser spotted eagle. Migration ecology; populaiton structure and population genetics; mapping this onto flyways.

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Vanja Michel

As a post-doc for the Swiss Ornithological Institute I analyzed mark-recapture data of whinchats from across Europe, estimating the effect of reproductive success on apparent survival rates using a multi-event models. Since July I work in science administration, therefore I do not have a lot of time for own research any more. You can contact me using my private e-mail address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Rien van Wijk

EXCO MLSG

Hoopoes, as short distance migrants to Spain and Morrocco, but some further south; nomadic versus site fidelity; individual quality is all rather than carry over effects.

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Arndt Wellbrock

  1. I am a PhD student in the Common Swift Project of the University of Siegen in Germany. I investigate different factors influencing life-history strategies in swifts (Apus apus). One of my main topics is tracking their migration routes and wintering areas using geolocators in individuals from different breeding colonies all over Germany.
  2. I have knowledge on several different geolocator types including PinPoint GPS tags and their fitting on swifts with full body harness. Moreover, I could assist researchers with analyzing geolocator data in R using the packages GeoLight or FLightR.
  3. I would like to exchange experience on analyzing and visualization of geolocator data within the group. Furthermore, I am interested in direct observation of swifts in their wintering areas or along their migration routes. Especially, survey data and behavioral descriptions from sub-Saharan Africa would help me to better understand the diverse movement patterns of swifts during the non-breeding season.

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