Research Activities

A view from the sea of Ascension Is., South Atlantic Oceanfrom the sea
A view from the sea of Ascension Is., South Atlantic Ocean

I am currently leading a small research group, called Islameta Research Group, which studies of the migrations and long-distance Islameta logomovements of animals, with special attention to the navigational and orientation systems the animals rely on to reach specific targets.

Isla Meta (“goal island” in Spanish) makes reference to a chapter of the book “The sea turtle, so excellent a fishe” (1967) of the American zoologist Archie Carr (a pioneer in the studies of sea turtle migrations), in which the possible navigational systems used by sea turtles during their oceanic migrations, are discussed. The chapter is mostly focused on the navigational cues used by those turtles which migrate towards specific targets like a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. 
The author especially examines the case of green turtles (Chelonia mydas), which shuttle between Brazil and the remote Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean: an epic migratory journey that has been reconstructed for the first time in 1997 by researchers of this group (click here for details).
The Islameta Group was initially founded by the late Prof. Floriano Papi (formerly full professor of Ethology at the University of Pisa). Its research was originally focused on the navigational and orientation systems the animals rely on to reach specific targets, along a fruitful line of research started with experiments on sea turtle migrations and navigation in the 1990s and 2000s.

In more recent years, the group has broadened its interests to include other aspects of sea turtle spatial ecology (like the effects of environmental factors on movements or their diving behaviour), also extending its target to other long-distance navigators such as seabirds or ducks.

The group is presently composed by myself and Dr. Resi Mencacci and works in close collaboration with the group led by Prof. Paolo Casale, still at the Department of Biology, that studies the biology and conservation of marine turtles, especially in the Mediterranean Sea.


For our research we are actively collaborating with a number of different colleagues throughout the world, among which:

Prof. Graeme C. Hays, Swansea University, UK

Dr. Sandra Hochscheid, Zoological Station Anton Dohrn, Naples, Italy

Dr. Simon Benhamou, CNRS Montpellier, France

Prof. Brendan J. Godley, University of Exeter, UK

Prof. Yakup Kaska, Pamukkale University and

Dekamer, Turkey

Prof. Antonio Mingozzi, Calabria University, Italy

Prof. Susanne Akesson, Lund University, Sweden

Dr. Giacomo Santini, University of Florence,Italy

… and many others!