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Dr. Ivan Maggini

Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology
Ornithology unit
Scientific coordinator - Austrian Ornithological Centre (AOC)
Department of Interdisciplinary Life Sciences
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Savoyenstr. 1
A-1160 Wien

T +43 (1) 25077 7402
F +43 (1) 25077 94 7402


My main research focus is on bird migration. Birds evolved morphological and physiological adaptations that allow them to perform large-scale movements through a variety of different habitats, under sometimes very challenging conditions, such as e.g. during the crossing of seas or deserts. It is also becoming increasingly clear that the strategies adopted by different species, or populations within species, are highly variable, depending on the characteristics of their itinerary. The aim of my research is to identify the physiological limitations that contribute to shaping and differentiating migration strategies. In the long run, knowing such limitations will help understand whether migratory birds are flexible enough to deal with changing environments and/or climate.


  • Water balance as a driver of behavioural strategies of migratory birds during desert crossing
    Birds migrating from Europe to Africa cross the Sahara Desert twice a year. Despite their lack of specific physiological adaptations to the extreme heat and arid conditions, many Passerine species regularly stopover in the desert to rest or refuel. Previous studies have put out the hypothesis that species adapted to humid habitats (such as central European birds) are constrained in their behaviour while stopping over by the availability of water. This means that they will be able to successfully refuel only when drinking water is available. On the opposite hand, species from drier habitats (such as Mediterranean species) might be able to be more active and refuel even if surface water is not available. The working hypothesis of this study is that species differ in their rates of cutaneous water evaporation, and that their behaviour is constrained by the ability to retain water. To test this hypothesis we are measuring cutaneous water loss in several species with different adaptations to arid habitats at stopover sites in the deserts of Israel and Morocco. The prediction is that the species with highest cutaneous water loss will be more active and use the stopover site more if they have drinking water available, while species with low cutaneous water loss will not need drinking water to sustain activity. After measuring their water loss rates, birds are released to the site with a telemetry nanotag ( and their activity and stopover duration are monitored.

    Armando Aispuro
    Clara Machowetz
    Bernhard Paces
    Barbara Waringer

  • Movement tracking using automated radiotelemetry
    The aim of this project is to create a network of automated telemetry receivers ( projects #121, 173, and 186), mainly in Austria, that will allow to track bird movements at a medium-scale range. This project will be connected with a Europe-wide network that allows to exchange data. In Austria, the network will be started around migration hotspots: the Neusiedlersee area and the Konrad Lorenz Research Station in Grünau. This will allow to study differences in birds’ movements in the Alpine range and t the edge of the Alps. The plan is to expand the system to the whole country. Additional receivers are mounted on the island of Ventotene (central Italy), to secure detections of birds at this very important migration hotspot, as of now the only Mediterranean island with automated receiving stations.
  • Scientific coordinator of the Austrian bird ringing scheme
    Bird ringing has provided a huge amount of information about bird migration for over a century. Even with the development of modern tracking techniques, bird ringing still plays an important role in ornithological science. With the newly established Austrian ringing scheme we wish to pursue two main goals: 1. Monitoring of breeding and migratory birds in Austria through nationally coordinated projects; and 2. Integrating bird ringing and modern tracking techniques for cutting edge basic research on bird migration. As a very small ringing scheme, the vision for the future is to participate in international projects involving bird ringing and tracking at a larger scale (e.g. at the European level).

Curriculum Vitae


Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, London (Canada). Topic: “Effects of crude oil on the migratory performance of birds”. Supervisor Prof. Christopher G. Guglielmo.

2010-2012 Participation in several research projects, including

Research assistant in GPS-tracking of Cory’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea at various Italian colonies, project managed by LIPU (BirdLife Italy);

  Measurement and elaboration of physiological, morphological and behavioural data collected on migratory birds on the island of Ponza, Italy, led by Prof. Dr. Leonida Fusani (University of Ferrara, Italy) and Prof. Wolfgang Goymann (Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany);
  Field technician in the project “Stopover of passerine birds at the northern desert edge in Morocco”. Project leader: Gabriel Gargallo (Catalan Institute of Ornithology, Barcelona, Spain). Financed by the Institute of Avian Research, Wilhelmshaven (Germany);
  Field technician in a study on migratory connectivity of bluethroats Luscinia svecica in Senegal, led by Dr. Juan Arizaga (Aranzadi Science Society, San Sebastian, Spain).
2009-2010 Postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Avian Research “Vogelwarte Helgoland”, Wilhelmshaven (Germany). Topic: “Migratory strategies of the Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe”. Supervisor Prof. Dr. Franz Bairlein.
2005-2009 PhD in Ornithology at the University of Oldenburg (Germany). Thesis: “Migratory strategies of Northern Wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe”. Supervisor Prof. Dr. Franz Bairlein.
1998-2004 Studies in Biology and Diploma in Zoology at the University of Zurich (Switzerland). Thesis: “Do birds refuel when stopping over in the Western Sahara desert?” Supervisor Prof. Dr. Uli Reyer and PD Dr. Lukas Jenni (Vogelwarte Sempach, Switzerland).