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The Ethology Unit works on various aspects of animal behaviour and ecology, continuing a long-standing the tradition of      ethological studies at the University of Pisa began over 50 years ago with the research of Floriano Papi, one of the founders of  Ethology in Italy.

The Unit research program is focused on the mechanisms and ecological determinants of vertebrate behaviour, with a particular    focus on spatial behaviour at multiple scales and levels of organization (individual, population, communities).

In particular, our long-term research program focuses on:

  •  bird and sea turtle migration,
  •  navigation mechanism in animals using as model the homing pigeon,
  •  spatial behaviour of terrestrial mammals,
  •  effects of parasites on predator-prey interactions at different spatio-temporal scales,
  •  distribution of vectors following land use and climate change,
  •  biology and ecology of species of conservation value.

 Within this vast research program, the effects of land and climate change on these ecological processes are studied and integrated into our models. A fast-changing world is clearly affecting wild animals at individual, population and community levels, and a deep understanding of cumulative and synergistic effects of these changes are priority to understand their possible consequences.


Beside the supervision of research project of undergraduate and graduate students (MSc, PhD and Post-DOC), the staff of the Research Unit is engaged in teaching the following disciplines:

  •  Ethology
  •  Behavioural Ecology
  •  Neural Basis of behaviour
  •  Animal Orientation and Migration
  •  Zoology
  •  Vertebrate zoology
  •  Biostatistics
  •  Advanced Biostatistics

Detailed information on the research carried out by the staff of the unit can be found in the personal sites of individual researchers.


The unit of Ethology staff is composed by:

Associate Professors

Prof. Paolo Luschi 
Prof. Alessandro Massolo
Prof. Elisabetta Palagi

Assistant Professors

Dott. Anna Gagliardo 
Dott. Dimitri Giunchi 
Dott. Paolo Casale (RTD-B)

Technical and Administrative staff

Mr. Andrea Guidi 
Dott. Michele Melai
Dott. Resi Mencacci 
Dott. Enrica Pollonara
Mr. Daniele Santerini