Gilberto Pasinelli


    Gilberto Pasinelli
    Gilberto Pasinelli (Foto © Archiv Vogelwarte)
    PD Dr Gilberto Pasinelli
    Swiss Ornithological Institute
    Seerose 1
    6204 Sempach

    ++41 41 462 97 58 (Telephone)
    ++41 41 462 97 10 (Fax)


    Deputy Scientific Director


    • Ecology
    • Conservation biology and genetics
    • Avian bioacoustics
    • Woodpecker ecology

    Current Projects

    Genetic connectivity of woodpecker populations
    to the project


    • quantifying the connectivity of middle and great spotted woodpecker populations and thus inferring the dispersal capacities of these woodpecker species
    • assessing the genetic diversity of middle and great spotted woodpecker populations
    • closing knowledge gaps according to the recovery plan for the middle spotted woodpecker
    • gaining insights for the implementation of oak plantations.

    Territory selection, breeding success and nest predation in wood warblers
    to the project


    • clarifying how territory selection in the wood warbler is related to forest structure and/or to the density of mice
    • assessing breeding success of the species and identifying the most important nest predators
    • identifying factors affecting nest success and reproductive performance
    • examining mechanisms underlying conspecific attraction

    Recovery program for the wood warbler
    to the project


    • Direct recovery measures through habitat improvement
      Uninhabited woodland areas that are suitable in terms of location and structure are turned into habitats for the wood warbler by means of targeted forest management interventions.
    • Indirect recovery measures through applying research results to forest management
      Results of recent studies on the habitat needs of the wood warbler are integrated into forest management practices in order to examine how the findings can inform the practical work of forest management in general and to investigate whether management interventions in support of the wood warbler are compatible with established commercial forestry practices.

    The White-backed Woodpecker in managed forests
    to the project


    • determining how this specialized woodpecker species survives in managed forests
    • examining site characteristics and forest structures affecting occurrence
    • determining habitat selection and space use by means of radio-tracking
    • identifying factors affecting nest success and reproductive performance


    Genetic connectivity of woodpecker populations: Lukas Keller & Glauco Camenisch, Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich

    Territory selection, breeding success and nest predation in wood warblers: Raphael Arlettaz, Conservation Biology, Universität Bern, Marta Maziarz & Tomasz Wesołowski, Laboratory of Forest Biology, Wrocław University, Dana Schabo & Nina Farwig, Conservation Ecology, University of Marburg

    The White-backed Woodpecker in managed forests: Hanna Kokko, Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Christian Ginzler, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Birmensdorf


    Ongoing projects not related to the Swiss Ornithological Institute:

    Spatial population structure in small local populations: Examining the spatial population structure and the contribution of small local populations for species persistence using the reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) as a model organism (Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich)


    2010 - present Deputy Scientific Director, Swiss Ornithological Institute, Sempach
    2008 - 2010 Wissenschaftlicher Adjunkt, Swiss Ornithological Institute, Sempach
    2001 - 2008 Senior research associate, Institute of Zoology, University of Zurich
    2003 - 2007 Part-time research associate, Swiss Ornithological Institute, Sempach
    1999 - 2001 Postdoctoral research associate, Department of Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA
    1998 - 1999 Research associate, Swiss Ornithological Institute, Sempach
    1993 - 1999 Research and teaching associate, Zoological Museum, University of Zurich

    2011 Habilitation at the University of Zurich, Switzerland
    1993 - 1999 PhD at the University of Zurich, Switzerland
    1991 - 1992 Diploma (MSc) at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, Switzerland

    Further training
    2012 Occupancy workshop (D. MacKenzie, Swiss Ornithological Institute, Sempach)
    2011 ConGen - Population Genetics Data Analysis Course (Flathead Lake Biological Station, Montana, USA)
    2008 Workshop on landscape genetics (L. Waits, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA)
    2007 Workshop on quantitative genetic methods using animal models (K. Foerster, University of Zurich)
    2006 Hierarchical modeling in ecology: estimation of abundance, occupancy, and species richness in large-scale surveys (R. Dorazio & A. Royle,University of Zurich)
    2004 Model selection and inference (D. Anderson, University of Zurich)
    1999 Introductory course into GIS: ARCINFO/ARCVIEW (F. Kienast, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Birmensdorf)


    • Editorial board member of Der Ornithologische Beobachter
    • Editorial board member of Acta Ornithologica
    • Reviewer for the journals Acta Oecologica, Acta Ornithologica, Animal Conservation, Annales Zoologici Fennici, Biological Conservation, Bird Conservaton International, Bird Study, Ecology, Ecography, Ethology, Folia Zoologica, Ibis, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Field Ornithology, Journal of Ornithology, Landscape Ecology, Molecular Ecology, Oecologia, Oikos, Ornis Fennica, PLoS One, Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B, Der Ornithologische Beobachter, Vierteljahresschrift der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft Zürich
    • Supervisor of PhD, MSc and BSc theses at various universities in Switzerland, Germany and Austria
    • President of Ala, Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Vogelkunde und Vogelschutz from 2009 to 2017
    • Chairman of the woodpecker specialist group of the German Ornithological Society


    Selected publications (for full list, click here)

    • Grendelmeier, A., Arlettaz, R., Olano-Marin, J. & Pasinelli, G. (2017). Experimentally provided conspecific cues boost bird territory density but not breeding performance. Behavioral Ecology 28: 174–185.
    • Huber, N., Kéry, M. & Pasinelli, G. (2017). Occupancy dynamics of the Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix assessed with habitat and remote sensing data. Ibis159: 623–637.
    • Huber, N., Kienast, F., Ginzler, C. & Pasinelli, G. (2016). Using remote-sensing data to assess habitat selection of a declining passerine at two spatial scales. Landscape Ecology: 31: 1919-1937.
    • Pasinelli, G., Grendelmeier, A., Gerber, M. & Arlettaz, R. (2016). Rodent-avoidance, topography and forest structure shape territory selection of a forest bird. BMC Ecology 6:24. DOI 10.1186/s12898-016-0078-8
    • Furrer, R. & Pasinelli, G. (2016). Empirical evidence for source-sink populations: a review on occurrence, assessments and implications. Biological Reviews: 91: 782-795.
    • Grendelmeier, A., Pasinelli, G., Gerber, M. & Arlettaz, R. (2015). Reproductive performance of a declining forest passerine in relation to environmental and social factors: implications for species conservation. PlosOne, DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0130954.
    • Mayer, C. & Pasinelli, G. (2013). New support for an old hypothesis: density affects extra-pair paternity. Ecology and Evolution 3: 694–705.
    • Zahner, V., Sikora, L. & Pasinelli, G. (2012). Heart rot as a key factor for cavity tree selection in the black woodpecker. Forest Ecology and Management 271: 98-103.
    • Pasinelli, G., Runge, J. & Schiegg, K. (2011). Source-sink status of local populations and their demographic contributions to a population network: the reed bunting as a case study. In: J.J. Liu, V. Hull, A. Morzillo & J. Wiens (eds.). Sources, sinks, and sustainability across landscapes: pp. 216-238. Cambridge University Press.
    • Pasinelli, G. et al. (2011). Impact of density and environmental factors on population fluctuations in a migratory passerine. Journal of Animal Ecology 80: 225-234.
    • Gross, K., Pasinelli, G. & Kunc, H.-J. (2010). Behavioral plasticity allows short-term adjustment to a novel selection pressure. American Naturalist 176: 456-464.
    • Brunner, P. & Pasinelli, G. (2010). Variation in singing style use in the reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus: influencing factors and possible functions. Journal of Avian Biology 41: 388-397.
    • Mayer, C., Schiegg, K. & Pasinelli, G. (2009). Patchy population structure in a short-distance migrant: evidence from genetic and demographic data. Molecular Ecology 18: 2353-2364.
    • Pasinelli, G., Mayer, C., Gouskov, A. & Schiegg, K. (2008). Small and large wetland fragments are equally suited as breeding grounds for a ground-nesting migratory passerine. Oecologia 156: 703-714.
    • Pasinelli, G. (2007). Nest site selection in two sympatric woodpecker species (Dendrocopos sp.) and consequences for conservation. Biodiversity & Conservation 16: 1283-1298.
    • Pasinelli, G., Müller, M., Schaub, M. & Jenni, L. (2007). Possible causes and consequences of philopatry and breeding dispersal in red-backed shrikes. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 61: 1061-1074.
    • Pasinelli, G. & Schiegg, K. (2006). Fragmentation within and between wetland reserves: the importance of spatial scales for nest predation in reed buntings. Ecography 29: 721-732.
    • Pasinelli, G. (2006). Population biology of European woodpecker species: a review. Annales Zoologici Fennici 43: 96-111.
    • Schiegg, K., Daniels, S.J., Walters, J.R., Priddy, J.A. & Pasinelli, G. (2006) Inbreeding in red-cockaded woodpeckers: effects of natal dispersal distance and territory location. Biological Conservation 131: 544-552.
    • Müller, M., Pasinelli, G., Schiegg, K., Spaar, R. & Jenni, L. (2005). Ecological and social effects on reproduction and local recruitment in the red-backed shrike. Oecologia 143: 37-50.
    • Pasinelli, G., Schiegg, K. & Walters, J.R. (2004) Genetic and environmental influences on natal dispersal distance in a resident bird species. American Naturalist 164: 660-669.
    • Pasinelli, G. & Walters, J.R. (2002). Social and environmental factors influence dispersal and philopatry of male red-cockaded woodpeckers in their first year of life. Ecology 83: 2229-2239.
    • Schiegg, K., Pasinelli, G., Walters, J.R. & Daniels, S. J. (2002). Inbreeding and experience affect adaptive response to climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 269: 1153-1159.
    • Pasinelli, G., Naef-Daenzer, B., Schmid, H., Keller, V., Holzgang, O., Graf, R. & Zbinden, N. (2001). An avifaunal zonation of Switzerland and its relation to environmental conditions. Global Ecology and Biogeography 10: 261-274.
    • Pasinelli, G. (2000). Oaks (Quercus sp.) and only oaks? Relations between habitat structure and home range size of the middle spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius). Biological Conservation 93: 227-235.