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Thomas Alerstam

VR project “Flight strategies and orientation of migrating birds”

The overall aim is to understand evolutionary possibilities and limitations in bird migration and to explain birds’ transport ecology and orientation. The research program includes five main parts.

Tests in relation to optimal migration theory of adaptive migratory behaviour. Satellite tracking, field and radar studies are used to evaluate migration strategies among species (and sex and age classes) and seasons, and to analyse fly-and-forage migration in relation to landscape structure.

The geometry of migration routes is analysed in relation to possible orientation mechanisms (incl. polar studies, e.g. during the Beringia 2005 expedition). Multi-year satellite tracking is used to explore how the birds’ inherent spatiotemporal migration program is complemented by imprinting and learning during the individuals’ migration history from juvenilehood and onwards.
Migration patterns in the circumpolar Arctic and the interdependence between migration, breeding and winter ranges are evaluated by biogeographic analyses.

The variability of flight performance between and within species is analysed from the project’s unique database of tracking radar measurements, and by comparing natural flight characteristics with performance in the wind tunnel (studies of swift).

The evolution of migration in a partial migrant (blue tit) is evaluated by comparing migratory and resident individuals with respect to behavioural, physiological and ecological differences.


Retrieved from Lund University's publications database



Retrieved from Lund University's publications database


Retrieved from Lund University's publications database

Thomas Alerstam
E-mail: thomas [dot] alerstam [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emeritus

Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 37 85


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Principal investigator

CAnMove - Centre for Animal Movement Research


Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden

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