Bird migration

    Can temperature changes recorded by geolocators be used for defining flight bouts in migrating birds?

    Miniaturized light-loggers of less than 1 g have the additional option to log apart from light also temperature. These temperature data have been used or are at least discussed to be used as an indicator for flight bouts. Hereby, a relatively fast drop in temperature is assigned to climbing up into cold air, while an increase is interpreted as landing behaviour. The somewhat larger multi-sensor loggers used at the Swiss Ornithological Institute allow to log light and temperature, but also activity and air pressure. Acceleration data allow an easy assignment of flight vs. non-flight periods, and thus, can be used to validate the reliability of temperature data. A proper statistical analysis of these time series data has to result in a quantification of the error occurring by using temperature data alone. In addition, a description of the circumstance with large and small errors should be provided. Finally, the results have to be visualized properly and prepared to be published, most likely together with the results from the task described here (light patterns).


    There are about 40 year-round tracks of individual birds available for this study. The time resolution is 5 min. and 30min., respectively. The student must have a good mathematical/statistical background and some R-programming experience.

    Contact and further information

    Swiss Ornithological Institute
    Dr. Felix Liechti
    Seerose 1
    CH-6204 Sempach
    Tel: +41 41 462 97 82