Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Radolfzell)

Research publications

You can find more research publications messages on the website of the Institute:

Research publications 2017

Shrews shrink in winter and regrow in spring

October 23, 2017

The tiny mammals reduce the size of their organs in the winter and can even decrease and rebuild bones [more]


Individuality drives collective behaviour of schooling fish

September 07, 2017

Researchers unravel the role of individual characteristics in the collective behaviour of animal groups [more]


On the hunt: describing group predation across the animal kingdom

August 22, 2017

Researchers outline a new way to define and classify how groups of animals hunt together [more]

Research publications 2016

“We still know far too little about bird flu”

December 31, 2016

Wolfgang Fiedler, an ornithologist at the Radolfzell Ornithological Station, pleads for more research leading to a better understanding of transmission paths [more]


Brazilian free-tailed bat is the fastest flyer in the animal kingdom

November 09, 2016

Bats are not just skilful aviators, they can also reach record-breaking speeds [more]


Blackbirds switch abruptly to fly-by-night behaviour at migration time

October 17, 2016

The normally diurnal birds don't need time to adjust their circadian clocks before departing for their winter habitats [more]

Research publications 2015

Following their noses to Lake Victoria – seagulls use smells to navigate

November 24, 2015

Without their sense of smell, lesser black-backed gulls are unable to compensate for deviations from their natural migratory corridor [more]


Gone with the wind

October 20, 2015

Migratory birds need less time to travel longer routes when they optimize for wind support. [more]


Straw-coloured fruit bats: Ecosystem service providers and record-breaking flyers

October 14, 2015

When searching for food, African straw-coloured fruit bats cover greater distances than any other bat species studied to date [more]


GPS transmitters can protect animals from poaching

August 07, 2015

The case of Cecil shows: with the help of satellite transmitter systems, researchers can determine the cause of death of animals almost in real time [more]


Baboons follow the majority

July 17, 2015

In a baboon group, any member can set the direction - not just the highest-ranking animal [more]

Research publications 2014

Observing small animals from space will soon be reality

December 03, 2014

The ambitious and globally unique ICARUS project receives funding from ROSKOSMOS [more]


Cuckoos stay on course

January 13, 2014

On their loop migration covering thousands of kilometres to their winter quarters in Central Africa, the birds hardly deviate from their path [more]

Research publications 2013

Just ask the animals!

October 16, 2013

Using animal behaviour data to better inform mathematical models of animal movements [more]


Tailwind for animal migration

July 03, 2013

A computer model links migratory movements with environmental data from satellites [more]


The rhythm of the Arctic summer

June 19, 2013

Diverse activity patterns of birds during the Arctic breeding season [more]


City slicker or country bumpkin

June 19, 2013

City-life changes blackbird personalities



Fast beat of the city

June 05, 2013

Blackbirds’ biological rhythms are altered in an urban setting [more]


Simultaneous breeding and moulting reduces fitness

May 08, 2013

Brush finches fly more slowly if they are reproducing and moulting at the same time [more]


Lunar cycle determines hunting behaviour of nocturnal gulls

March 27, 2013

Swallow-tailed gulls hunt most often under a new moon, when fish come to the surface under the cover of darkness [more]


Magnetic pulses disrupt the magnetic sense of robins

February 21, 2013

For their first migratory flight, juvenile birds rely on their genetically inherited internal compass [more]


Blackbirds in the spotlight

February 13, 2013

City birds that experience light at night are ready to breed earlier than their rural cousins [more]

Research publications 2012

Galapagos tortoises are a migrating species

November 26, 2012

The large, dominant male Galapagos giant tortoises usually start their annual migration at the beginning of the dry season [more]


Wild birds respond differently to the first long days of a year

April 24, 2012

For great tits spring does not always start at the same time [more]

Research publications 2011

Only few seabird species contract avian malaria

December 12, 2011

Climate differences have less impact on the transmission of blood parasites than expected [more]


Colourful boundary trespassers: burrowing parrots crossed the Andes 120,000 years ago

July 12, 2011

The different populations of the South American Burrowing Parrot originated in Chile [more]


Bats keep separate households

March 24, 2011

The use of different environments by males and females in the parti-coloured bat makes population estimation and thereby the conservation of the species more difficult [more]


Birds use right nostril to navigate

February 03, 2011

Pigeons are disoriented without olfactory sense [more]


Hormones dictate breeding success in birds

January 25, 2011

Max Planck researchers can predict the number of offspring a bird will have based on its prolactin and corticosterone levels



If many want to feed: how seabirds share their habitat

January 04, 2011

Feeding habits of diving seabirds differ spatially and temporally, both within and between species [more]

Research publications 2010

Soaring is better than flapping

December 08, 2010

Small migrating birds also save energy as they fly [more]


Only some like it hot

March 31, 2010

How birds from different populations react to infections in their natural environment [more]


To the Antarctic or Brazil for new feathers

March 15, 2010

Thin-billed prions select their moulting grounds individually [more]

Research publications 2009

We’re off then: the evolution of bat migration

November 20, 2009

Researchers reconstruct the evolution of bat migration with the aid of a mathematical model [more]


Monarch butterflies with a heavy load

July 24, 2009

Scientists have succeeded for the first time in fitting monarch butterflies with a radio transmitter and in tracking them from an aircraft over a long distance on their flight northwards during the butterflies’ annual migration from their winter residence in Mexico [more]


Faithful males do not bring flowers

May 19, 2009

It is only one small evolutionary step from rampant illegitimacy to virtual monogamy [more]

Research publications 2008

Not living up to their name

May 21, 2008

Sloths in the wild sleep a lot less than previously thought [more]

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