Animal-Environment Interactions

We strive to unveil the inner workings of ecological and evolutionary processes in the natural world  through a quantitative and predictive understanding of how the ever-changing environmental conditions impact on animals in the wild, the decisions they evolved to take, and the choices they have learned to make. Our vision is thus a quantitative understanding of how animals depend on, react to, and change their environment by studying their occurrence, distribution and foremost their movements in acknowledgment of the complexity of the evolutionary as well as ecological causes and consequences of these animal-environment interactions.

We nurture a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative team environment to achieve our scientific goals, and welcome new group members and collaborators from diverse research backgrounds and career stages. Please contact if you are interested in working with us!

Ongoing projects

In the MoveApps project we are creating a platform to make sophisticated analytical tools accessible to a larger audience. Users are invited to combine multiple analysis Apps to create a Workflow that analyses data from the Movebank database. The Apps are created by the MoveApps team or the broader coding community in R, R-shiny or other languages. Our goal is to bring together movement ecologists and wildlife managers looking for flexible analysis tools with those who are developing tools and want to share them with others.

Energy sea-scapes for terrestrial bird migration

Our expectation of where animals should and should not be is based on where we, and generations before us, have observed them. We have not always looked for animals in places inconvenient for us to get to, but that does not mean that these places are inconvenient for the animals as well. With bio-logging technology, we are finding that animals regularly move through regions that we thought were “inhospitable”. In this project, we investigate how the atmospheric environment can facilitate terrestrial birds’ flight over the open sea.

Ontogeny of soaring flight

Flight behavior is, at least partially, progressively acquired during a bird's early life stages. In soaring birds, this process involves learning to interact with the physical environment to effectively extract energy from it. How well and how fast an individual learns to soar can depend on morphological and cognitive traits, and its physical and social environment. The resulting individual variation can influence success later on in life, in foraging, migration, or survival. We explore this topic in various scales, from post-fledging flights of golden eagles to migratory route selection in European honey buzzards.

Seabirds and storms

Seabirds have evolved to utilize the windscape to fuel their flight. Despite this, they can be impacted negatively by anomalies in wind conditions. How susceptible different species are to storms depends, at least partially, on their flight style. This is reflected in the reports of seabird wrecks, with flap gliders such as auks wrecked more often than dynamic soaring birds such as albatrosses. We investigate the use of the windscape by multiple seabird species to estimate the threshold of wind conditions tolerated by birds with different flight strategies. This project is led by Prof. Emily Shepard (Swansea University, UK).

Human – wildlife interactions in the urban realm

Urban environments are made by and for humans in order to maximize human density, and facilitate human movements and activity. Yet, a growing body of literature now highlights how several species adapt, and thrive in this environment. As urban areas are growing, knowing how these species can live alongside humans and the consequences of this promiscuity on their biology is capital. In collaboration with Lucy Aplin and the Cognitive and Cultural Ecology lab, this project investigates whether and how human culture and activity can lead to the emergence of animal routines.

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