Scientific ‘VrijMiBo’ II: Paul Chambroux


The Scientific “VrijMiBo” is a bi-weekly scientific get-togethers. An open stage to discuss scientific topics and to ask for feedback from a dedicated audience.

Nov 3 2023 (15:00-17:00)

BirdEyes (Zaailand 110 Leeuwarden)

This week, we have a talk by Ph.D student Paul Chambroux from the University of Groningen Biomimetics research group. The topic will be: The biomimetic avian migrant – Understanding how migrating birds navigate using mechanistic models

Description: Seasonal migration characterizes around a fitfth of known bird species. This behavior is studied from many viewpoints, such as ecology, ethology or cognition. We also marvel at the navigational powers that make some migrating birds travel thousands of kilometers without getting lost. But yet, understanding migrating birds’ navigation remains a teething problem. Many qualified it, some theorisized about it, but no common framework to study bird navigation emerged.

Here we want to offer a new point of view on the topic. Through the lens of biomimetics, I present a framework to understand the components of bird navigation and their interactions. Based on this framework, the aim of my Ph.D research will be to create new mechanistic models of bird navigation. Such models would give biologists new tools to design studies and analyze data. Clarifying the biological principles will also inspire engineers to design new GPS-free navigation techniques. Ultimately it may benefit birds themselves if this knowledge leads to a greater appreciation and more effective bird conservation policies – but that needs caring actions on the part of human society.

What I’m looking forward to get from the audience: My main question for the audience is: how could better understanding bird navigation also support and inform your own research? Given the panel of expertise and interest of the audience, their insight would be especially valuable to help structuring my research to make it the most informative to the biologists. It would also stimulate discussion and exchange of ideas around the topic, further expanding the scope.


In addition, we are currently organizing targeted work meetings, building on the traditions that we have developed during the Wadvogelwerk (Metawad-Waddenfonds), Kening fan ‘e Greide for many years, and the black-tailed godwit research in southwest Fryslân.

Centre for global ecological change at the University of Groningen

Birdeyes is a science and creative centre that views the world - almost literally - through the eyes of birds. More and more birds are flying around with tiny transmitters, loggers and other high technology on their backs and legs. This generates an unimaginable amount of information. By cleverly combining such data with other sources of information, and by using new ways to tell stories and share the insights with, BirdEyes strives to open up a new knowledge network. The centre aims to be an innovative part of the University of Groningen and is linked to the Rudolph Agricola School for Sustainable Development. BirdEyes, with empirical and inspirational roots in the farthest corners of the world.

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