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Migratory birds can travel thousands of kilometers with great precision. In this video, MIRIAM LIEDVOGEL explores the genetic characteristics that enable this. Focusing on blackcaps because of the different types of migratory behavior that they exhibit, Liedvogel employs geolocator technology to track birds’ movements in their natural habitat. Among other things, the research demonstrates that differing migratory orientation can be linked to variation in the individual genome. Providing insight into behavioral variability and sensory biology the research also helps to explain how populations adapt to changing ecological conditions and can therefore contribute to the optimization of conservation measures.


Miriam Liedvogel is Director of the Institute of Avian Research at Vogelwarte Helgoland and Professor of Ornithology at Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg. Until 2022 she also continues as leader of her Max Planck Research Group on Behavioural Genomics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology. Liedvogel held a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship at Oxford Universtiy, UK, and a Feodor Lynen Fellowship for research at Lund University, Sweden. Liedvogel’s research interests include bird migration, evolution, behavioral genomics and the molecular mechanisms of animal orientation and navigation. As a principal investigator, Liedvogel’s research has been supported by various funding schemes, e.g. Max Planck Society, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German Research Foundation (DFG), European Commission (FP7), German Academic Exchange Scheme (DAAD). She has received several awards and fellowships, for instance the JED Williams Medal.


Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology consists of three departments: Evolutionary Genetics, Evolutionary Theory, and Microbial Population Biology. 
Basic research is conducted here to explain fundamental processes in evolutionary biology. These include ecological adaptations, the origin of sexuality or the evolution of cooperativity. The range of research work includes ecological, organismal, molecular and theoretical approaches.

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Original publication

The Evolutionary History and Genomics of European Blackcap Migration

Delmore Kira, Illera Juan Carlos, Pérez-Tris Javier, Segelbacher Gernot, Ramos Juan S Lugo, Durieux Gillian, Ishigohoka Jun and Liedvogel Miriam
Published in 2020

Individual Variability and Versatility in an Eco-Evolutionary Model of Avian Migration

Liedvogel Miriam, Liedvogel Miriam, Conway Greg J., Curk Teja, Garrido-Garduño Tania, Germain Ryan R., Hasselmann Timo, Hiemer Dieter, van der Jeugd Henk P., Justen Hannah, Delmore* Kira E., Van Doren* Benjamin M., Lugo Ramos J.S. et al
Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Published in 2020

Reading recommendations

The Genetics of Migration on the Move

Liedvogel Miriam, Åkesson Susanne and Bensch Staffan
Trends in Ecology & Evolution
Published in 2011

Human Activity Shapes the Wintering Ecology of a Migratory Bird

Van Doren Benjamin M., Conway Greg J., Phillips Robbie J., Evans Glynne C., Roberts Graham C.M., Liedvogel Miriam* and Sheldon Ben C.*
Global Change Biology
Published in 2021