We collaborate in an ongoing way with the Swiss Ornithological Institute, with whom we exchange data and share the important work in the field. This fruitful collaboration enables us to better monitor the Barn Owl population all across Switzerland.
We also work hand in hand with the Octanis Association. The goal of the “Smart Nestboxes” project, developed in collaboration with the Swiss Ornithological Institute, is to facilitate the monitoring of the owl population. A device placed inside each nestbox should, in the long term, enable us to weigh the owls and recognize them. To do this, each owl is now equipped with a new leg ring containing a RFID (radio frequency identification) microchip. The nestboxes are now starting to be equipped with the device that can read this chip. In this way, we will soon know when an owl visits a nestbox. The owls will be weighed using perches that have been transformed into scales and installed at the entrance to the nestboxes. This will give us precise data while limiting how much we disturb the birds.
We often collaborate with other labs at the university, whether in our department, our faculty, or in other faculties at the University. Within the Department of Ecology and Evolution (DEE), which is where our lab is housed, it isn’t rare for PhD students to work in two labs at the same time. This is especially the case in projects that connect owls and population genetics, or owls and immunity. We have also partnered up with the hospital in Lausanne (CHUV) on projects linking genetics and health. Recently, we are trying to push interdisciplinarity even further with projects that link biology and social and cognitive psychology.
These days it is very easy to transmit information and data. This means that we can collaborate with researchers from the entire world. Specialists from universities anywhere can publish articles they have written jointly, and for a wide audience. This globalization enables us to also create extraordinary projects.
Our nestboxes are installed on private property. The owners, very often farmers, are essential collaborators for us as we continue our research.