Ottenby bird observatory on Öland

Plans for European research centre at Ottenby bird observatory

Regionförbundet, Linnaeus University and Kalmar County Council are now looking into the possibility to develop activities at Ottenby bird observatory into a European research centre for bird borne diseases and zoonoses.

At Ottenby bird observatory, there is great knowledge about birds and bird migration, and for the last 70 years the bird observatory has been ringing birds. Since 2002, Linnaeus University has carried out cutting-edge research on bird borne diseases and zoonoses; that is to say, microorganisms that can spread diseases from birds to humans.

The plan is to establish an international research centre in collaboration between Regionförbundet, Linnaeus University and Kalmar County Council. As an initial step, a group of experts will now meet to look into the possibilities and obstacles in this process.

Jonas Waldenström portrait

One of the members of this group is Jonas Waldenström, professor of microbiology with specialisation in the ecology and evolution of diseases, whose research group Zoonotic Ecology and Epidemiology (ZEE) is part of Linnaeus University's largest research centre Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Micriobial model Systems (EEMiS). It is estimated that the pilot study will take about six months.

"From a bird perspective, Ottenby has a central location, along a migratory route where Western Europe is linked together with Russia and Asia. The technological advancements within satellite transmitters have been incredible and we can now link together knowledge about migrating birds with the spread of different diseases. Moreover, there is well-established logistics at Ottenby bird observatory on how to take samples from birds in a secure way", says Waldenström.

There is interest for a European research centre at Ottenby from many different actors, locally and regionally as well as internationally. Exciting research projects, not least for the master of science in medicine programme, could be offered to students in the future.

Ottenby bird observatory