European Researchers Night
Always fun and very interesting conversations when we open our lab-doors and invite everyone into the institute to show them what we work on. It is inspiring and rewarding to join forces in the lab and work on developing graphics, games and gimmics that allow us to share our enthusiasm for our subject.

ARTE featurig blackcaps!
Wundersame Wanderungen - the blackcap is main actor in one of four documentaries on the less well known heros of migration. It was super interesting, lots of fun, and a huge honour having had the amazing crew of ARTE devoting one of their series on a large body of our work. One focus of the documentary is on our work using geolocator technology to characterise the fascinating variability in phenotype across the blackcap's breeding range with one focus in the hybrid zone across the central European migratory divide and a second focus on the increasing numbers of blackcaps spending their winter in the British Isles following a newly established northwesterly direction. Thanks, ARTE, great story and wonderful pictures!

Welcome Corinna!
Corinna will be adding the European Robin to the list of migratory species our lab uses to understand the genetics of migration. This project is part of the SFB 1372 Magnetoreception and Navigation in Vertebrates and the reference genome will be assembled together with the Wellcome Sanger Institute to celebrate its 25th Anniversary (they compiled this little video with a little more background info on our work).

Wonder what sex your offspring is?
Here is an easy fix - in case you are a blackcap, or you are working with this wonderful species. Hanna Koch, former postdoc in our group, developed a loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) protocol that allows for fast and accurate sex determination both in the lab and in the field. Here is how it goes.

We are hiring - come and work with us!
We have one open postdoc position in our lab. Our group integrates various biological discplines with the aim to understand and characterise the genomics of migratory behaviour. The ideal candidate for the postdoc position has a strong background in one or several of the following areas - population genetics analyses, computational biology and bioinformatics, experience working with high-throughput sequencing data, and/or is familiar with the use of data on gene expression or epigenetic markers. 

@GenMig on the tweetosphere
We have fledged! Pretty much in style of migratory bird enthusiasts, updates from the Liedvogel lab can now also be followed on twitter.

We are finalists!
We just learned that our project aiming to understand the (epi)genetics of parental age effects in common terns has been named as one of three finalists for the Norddeutscher Wissenschaftspreis 2018! This is a wonderful collaboration withCAU and Sandra Bouwhuis from the Institute for Avian Research in Wilhelmshaven, the epigenetic analyses are spearheaded by our own Britta. Exciting times!

And the team grows further - welcome Karen and Andrea
Two new PhD students join our group to work on different aspects of the backcap. Andrea will investigate how adaptation to residency has been realised for various island populations, and Karen will dive into exploring linkage, mutation rate, recombination and other characteristics of the blackcap genome. Welcome Andrea and Karen!

Back from the field - exhausted but very happy
This year's field season was special in terms of timing of breeding - we saw our first couple feeding fledglings in Carinthia already end of May, something we never witnessed in previous years. But despite this additional challenge, the crew did an amazing job and came home with 27 geolocators carrying previously inaccessible insight into direction and timing blackcaps breeding in the hybrid zone across the central migratory divide are taking during their migratory journeys. You can find a snippet featuring our work at one catching location in an Austrian newspaper article (German only).

It's that time of year again - field season 2018
Just in time for World Migratory Bird Day

Welcome Tania and Britta
Two new postdocs - Tania Garrido Garduño and Britta Meyer - have joined our team in May. Tania will add niche modelling approaches and thus a novel aspec to our blackcap work, and Britta will dive into understanding the epigenetics of parental age effects in common terns, an exciting collaboration we just started with Sandra Bouwhuis from the Institute of Avian Research.

Comparative genomics paper out in Evolution Letters (03/2018)
We are very happy to share our most recent publication here: In this comparative analysis, Kira et al. uses genomic data from eight population pairs of birds that span a broad taxonomic scale to study relative (FST) and absolute (dXY) patterns of genomic differentiation across differentiation events.

UK wintering blackcaps are returning! (01/2018)
In addition to fitting blackcaps with geolocators across the central European divide, we have also been fitting geolocators to blackcaps that spend their winters in the UK to find out where they are spending the remainder of the year. This project spearheaded by Benjamin van Doren (PhD student at the EGI, Oxford University) together with the BTO and Exeter University, and we are very excited to see these blackcaps returning. Read more about our Blackcaps on the BBC Winterwatch blog (here and here as well)! A summary of the project can also be found in this recent popular science article in Bird Table. Exciting winter days and fingers crossed for many more returners!

Master Timo (01/2018)
Congratulations for successfully defending your thesis on "Avian malaria prevalence in blackcaps across the central European migratory divide". Timo joined our lab as an intern, stayed as research assistent and finally fledges as a Master in Science, well done! Happy we have had you here and best of luck for the future.

Hannah "talking Vogelzug" at the European Researchers Night (29/09/2017)
Hannah represented our group at the European Researchers Night - "Nacht der Wissenschaften". Watch this video or read through this article to get a flavour of this event that simultaneously happens in 260 cities across Europe, where researchers open their labs and invite visitors to do research and share insight. Thanks Hannah for an amazing job!

Juan's first thesis paper published!
Candidate genes for migration do not distinguish migratory and non-migratory birds. Lugo Ramos, J.S., Delmore, K.E. & Liedvogel, M. J Comp Physiol A (2017). doi:10.1007/s00359-017-1184-6

Field season 2017 running in full swing
The crew fanned out towards Austria. Here we focus on the hybrid zone between SE and SW migratory blackcaps that have been fitted with light level geolocators last year. Exciting times ahead - hopefully we will be able to catch many of these precious creatures back and find out where they spent their winter and which route they took to get there.

Congratulations, Ben!
Ben has published two papers on the Stonechat Saxicola complex that came out of his Honours Thesis Project.

One paper analysing a huge dataset of long-term Zugunruhe data that highlights many axes of variation in migratory behaviour (Van Doren BM, Liedvogel M, Helm B. Programmed and flexible: long-term Zugunruhe data highlight the many axes of variation in avian migratory behaviour. Journal of Avian Biology. 48:155-172. doi: 10.1111/jav.01348) and a second paper highlighting correlated patterns of genetic diversity and differentiation across an avian family (Van Doren BM, Campagna L, Helm B, Illera JC, Lovette IJ, Liedvogel M. Correlated patterns of genetic diversity and differentiation across an avian family. Molecular Ecology. doi: 10.1111/mec.14083).

Ben further just started his PhD at Oxford University end of last year and will be continuing to work with us on understanding where UK overwintering blackcaps come from! You can get a sneak preview of what he is up to right now here:

Come and work with us!
Interested in joining our team? We are currently recruiting a postdoc to join our group working on the genetics of migration. Please see the attached pdf file for further details of the position.

Welcome Gillian, Hannah and Timo
Gillian Durieux from Sheffiled University, UK, will join us as a new PhD student focussing on understanding gene expression patterns in various blackcap phenotypes. Hannah Justen, Masters student from CAU Kiel will join our team as research assistant after her summer internship in our lab. And Timo Hasselmann is back as well, now carrying out his Masters project in our group, adding a parasite-angle to our work. Welcome Gillian, Hannah and Timo!

Symposium on the Genetics of Migration
We are pleased to announce that a symposium on the Genetics of Migration will be held at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Biology 4th to 7th April 2017.

With this symposium we aim to bring together a multi-disciplinary group of scientists working on the ecology, genomics, epigenetics, evolutionary theory and biostatistics of animal migration. The development of next generation sequencing technology and improvements in tracking the movement of migratory species is certain to advance this field of science in the coming years so now is an excellent time to synthesize what we currently understand about the genetic basis of migration as well as highlight future avenues of research. The symposium will be based on a series of talks, posters, workshops and discussions and will encompass a wide range of migratory taxa including birds, fish and insects.

Keynote speakers: Jochen Wolf - Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Claudia Bank - Gulbenkian Institute Guojie Zhang - Beijing Genomics Institute/University of Copenhagen Melinda Baerwald - University of California, Davis Nancy Chen - University of California, Davis Christine Merlin - Texas A&M University

Further details including registration information can be found at Any queries please email the organising committee (Miriam Liedvogel, Kira Delmore, Christopher Jones) at

End of field season 2016
During the last field trip to Hartberg in Austria, our field crew was completed with assistance from Barbara Helm from Glasgow University, UK, and two interns (Hannah Justen and Enrico Fruth) that joined our lab during summer. A brief snippet on our field trip was published in the local newspaper (link to article).

Welcome Timo (1 April 2016)
Timo Hasselmann is a Masters student from the University of Lübeck and joins our group for an internship.

Kira and Miriam publish a Perspective article on the genetics of migratory orientation
Front. Behav. Neurosci., 21 January 2016 |

Welcome to our new IMPRS students Mayra Zamora Moreno and Juan Sebastian Lugo Rames (21 September 2015)
Mayra carryed out her Masters research in Argentina as a joint project with Lódz and Kiel Universities (PL and DE) and Juan Sebastian recently finished his Masters project at Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá. Both are joining our group as IMPRS students and will be working on various aspects of the genetics of migration during their PhD projects. Welcome!

Welcome to Kira Delmore and Nadine Thiele (1 September 2015)
Kira just successfully defended her PhD thesis in Darren Irwin's lab and is joining our group as a postdoc focussing on understanding the genomic architecture of migratory traits in the blackcap. Nadine finished her Masters degree at the Universtiy of Oldenburg and is joining our lab to characterise the European robin genome. Welcome Kira and Nadine!

Welcome to Benjamin von Doren (13 July 2015)
Ben is a 3rd-year undergraduate at Cornell University studying biology, and keenly interested in looking at bird migration from a genetic and genomic perspective. In a collaboration with Cornell Universtiy (The Lovette Lab) and Glasgow University (Barbara Helm) he is currently doing this for his honors thesis project using the Stonechat Saxicola system.

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