UNIVERSITY RESEARCH... in a nutshell
The Ponza Research Station has been active since 2006, studying bird migration in strict collaboration with the Ponza Ringing Station. Several partner institutions support the Ponza Research Station: the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology and the Department of Cognitive Biology of Vienna (Austria), the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology of Seewiesen (Germany) and the University of Ferrara (Italy).
Avian migration is still one of the less understood phenomena of nature. Just before departure, birds increase enormously their body mass to face long migratory flights over ecological barriers such as the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea. These flights lead to rapid depletion of the energy reserves, and migratory birds spend about 80% of the migration period at stopover sites to replenish their energy reserves and recover from the fatigue of the flight. Hence, studying stopover behavior is fundamental to understand bird migration.
Ponza is an important stopover site for trans-Mediterranean migratory passerines, and our Station catches more than 20'000 birds every spring. Hence, researchers can rely on very large sample sizes throughout the migratory season. Working with wild migrating birds provides an unique opportunity to study internal factors that are involved in stopover strategies, and allows the exploration of metabolic and physiological mechanisms occurring in migrants. To date, the internal mechanisms underlying bird migration are still scarcely known.
So far, our research activity in Ponza has strongly contributed to expand knowledge on migration in birds, with several publications in scientific journals.