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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Early arrival to breeding grounds: causes, costs and a trade-off with overwintering latitude

Rotics, S., Kaatz, M., Turjeman, S., Zurell, D., Wikelski, M., Sapir, N., Eggers, U., Fiedler, W., Jeltsch, F., and Nathan, R. (2018) Early arrival to breeding grounds: causes, costs and a trade-off with overwintering latitude. Journal of Animal Ecology 87:16271638. doi:


Early arrival at breeding grounds is of prime importance for migrating birds as it is known to enhance breeding success. Adults, males and higher quality individuals typically arrive earlier, and across years, early arrival has been linked to warmer spring temperatures. However, the mechanisms and potential costs of early arrival are not well understood. To deepen the understanding of arrival date differences between individuals and years, we studied them in light of the preceding spring migration behaviour and atmospheric conditions en route. GPS and body acceleration (ACC) data were obtained for 35 adult white storks (Ciconia ciconia) over five years (2012-2016). ACC records were translated to energy expenditure estimates (overall dynamic body acceleration; ODBA) and to behavioural modes, and GPS fixes were coupled with environmental parameters. At the interindividual level (within years), early arrival was attributed primarily to departing earlier for migration and from more northern wintering sites (closer to breeding grounds), rather than to migration speed. In fact, early-departing birds flew slower, experienced weaker thermal uplifts and expended more energy during flight, but still arrived earlier, emphasizing the cost and the significance of early departure. Individuals that wintered further south arrived later at the breeding grounds but did not produce fewer fledglings, presumably due to positive carry-over effects of advantageous wintering conditions (increased precipitation, vegetation productivity and daylight time). Therefore, early arrival increased breeding success only after controlling for wintering latitude. Males arrived slightly ahead of females. Between years, late arrival was linked to colder temperatures en route through two different mechanisms: stronger headwinds causing slower migration and lower thermal uplifts resulting in longer stopovers. This study showed that distinct migratory properties underlie arrival time variation within and between years. It highlighted (a) an overlooked cost of early arrival induced by unfavourable atmospheric conditions during migration, (b) an important fitness trade-off in storks between arrival date and wintering habitat quality and (c) mechanistic explanations for the negative temperature-arrival date correlation in soaring birds. Such understanding of arrival time can facilitate forecasting migrating species responses to climate changes.

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.