Welcome aboard to our new student Eran Altschuler

25 October 2018

We welcome our new M.Sc. student Eran Altschuler!

Congratulations and warm wishes to our students Inbal and Yosef

27 January 2018

To Inbal for the birth of her daughter, and to Yosef for the birth of his son. We wish them and their families joy and happiness

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New publications

Contrasting aspects of tailswinds and asymmetrical response to crosswinds in soaring migrants

21 February 2018

Becciu, P., Panuccio, M., Catoni, C., Dell'Omo, G., and Sapir, N. 2018. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 72(28).  

Hovering hummingbird wing aerodynamics during the annual cycle. II. Implications of wing feather moult

21 February 2018

Achache Y, Sapir N, Elimelech Y. 2018. Hovering hummingbird wing aerodynamics during the annual cycle. II. Implications of wing feather moult. Royal Society Open Science 5: 171766.  

Moving in the Anthropocene: Global reductions in terrestrial mammalian movements

24 January 2018

Science 359 (6374): 466-469  

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Migration by soaring or flapping...

Sapir, N., Horvitz, N., Wikelski, M., Mahrer, Y., Avissar, R. and Nathan, R. 2011. Migration by soaring or flapping: numerical atmospheric simulations reveal that turbulence kinetic energy dictates bee-eater flight mode. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B – Biological Sciences 278:3380-3386.



Aerial migrants commonly face atmospheric dynamics that may affect their movement and behaviour. Specifically, bird flight mode has been suggested to depend on convective updraught availability and tailwind assistance. However, this has not been tested thus far since both bird tracks and meteorological conditions are difficult to measure in detail throughout extended migratory flyways. Here, we applied, to our knowledge, the first comprehensive numerical atmospheric simulations by mean of the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) to study how meteorological processes affect the flight behaviour of migrating birds. We followed European bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) over southern Israel using radio telemetry and contrasted bird flight mode (flapping, soaring–gliding or mixed flight) against explanatory meteorological variables estimated by RAMS simulations at a spatial grid resolution of 250 × 250 m2. We found that temperature and especially turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) determine bee-eater flight mode, whereas, unexpectedly, no effect of tailwind assistance was found. TKE during soaring–gliding was significantly higher and distinct from TKE during flapping. We propose that applying detailed atmospheric simulations over extended migratory flyways can elucidate the highly dynamic behaviour of air-borne organisms, help predict the abundance and distribution of migrating birds, and aid in mitigating hazardous implications of bird migration.

About us

We are a group of scientists devoted to the study of animal flight, including animal movement ecology, behavior, physiology and biomechanics. We study wild animals in the field and in the lab using a diversity of research approaches. We welcome applications for M.Sc. and Ph.D. studies and post-doctoral work in our group at the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology at the University of Haifa.