Ecologie comportementale


altDirecteur de recherche au CNRS

Directeur du département Ecologie Evolutive et Comportementale

Campus du CNRS
1919, route de Mende
34293 Montpellier cedex 5

Tél : +33/0 4 67 61 32 44
Fax : +33/0 4 67 61 33 36


Research Interests

  1. -Olfaction in birds
  2. -Chemical communication in petrel seabirds: individual recognition, olfactory signature, mate choice, MHC based mate choice
  3. -Orientation and Navigation in animals: navigation mechanisms of pelagic seabirds, olfactory navigation

My interest is around the birds’ senses and sexual selection. Coming from studies on olfactory navigation in homing pigeons at the University of Pisa (Italy), I explored the navigation capabilities of petrel seabirds and I discovered that these seabirds use olfaction not only to find their way around, and to navigate, but also to communicate between individuals. I was therefore the first to assert that olfactory communication exists among birds. 



  • 1991 Laurea in Natural Science, Pisa University (Italy). Effects of zinc sulphate-induced anosmia on homing behaviour of pigeons. (110/110, cum laude).
  • 1996 PhD (Animal biology and Ethology) at Pisa University (Italy). Animal Orientation and navigation investigated by the means of a data logger: the "route recorder".
  • 1997 Laurea in Biology, Pisa University (Italy). Foraging patterns of breeding Thick-billed murres (Uria Lomvia) in Iceland, as revealed by a direction recorder. (110/110, cum laude).
  • 2005 Habilitation (à Diriger la Recherche HDR), Université de Montpellier II. Title « L'olfaction chez les oiseaux : le cas des pétrels »


Post-doctoral research activities

1996-1997 Foraging activity of Brünnich guillemots (Uria lomvia). Island. Collaboration with Dr. G.A. Gudmundsson, Iceland Institute of Natural History de Reykjavik. Financed by Pisa University.

1997-1998 Impact of power lines on birds nesting on electricity pylons. Italy. Collaboration with Dr. Giacomo Dell'Omo, Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Rome). Financed by Istituto Superiore di Sanità.

1999-2000 Foraging activity and orientating behaviour of Antarctic fur seal at Kerguelen archipelago in relation to oceanographic conditions. France. Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé CNRS. financed by Marie Curie post-doctoral fellowship.

2000-2001 Petrels and albatrosses' orientation and foraging. France. Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé CNRS, financed by Italian National Research Council (CNR) post-doctoral fellowship.

2001-to present Orientation of pelagic animals. Olfaction in petrels. CEFE-CNRS Montpellier, France. Researcher position at CNRS.

Main advances in petrels' olfaction studies

Bonadonna, F. & Nevitt, G. A. 2004. Partner-specific odor recognition in an Antarctic seabird. Science, 306, 835.

Mardon, J., Saunders, S. M., Anderson, M. J., Couchoux, C. & Bonadonna, F. 2010. Species, Gender, and Identity: Cracking Petrels' Sociochemical Code. Chemical Senses, 35, 309-321.

Bonadonna, F. & Sanz-Aguilar, A. 2012. Kin recognition and inbreeding avoidance in wild birds: the first evidence for individual kin-related odour recognition. Animal Behaviour, 84, 509-513.

Strandh, M., Westerdahl, H., Pontarp, M., Canbäck, B., Dubois, M. P., Miquel, C., Taberlet, P. & Bonadonna, F. 2012. MHC class II but not class I predicts mate choice for compatibility in the olfactory oriented blue petrel, Halobaena caerulea (Procelariiformes) - as revealed by massively parallel pyrosequencing. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 279, 4457–4463.

Leclaire, S., Strandh, M., Mardon, J., Westerdahl, H. & Bonadonna, F. 2017. Odour-based discrimination of MHC-similarity in birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 284, 2016-2466.

Bonadonna, F., Gagliardo, A., 2021. Not only pigeons: avian olfactory navigation studied by satellite telemetry. Ethol. Ecol. Evol. 33, 273-289.

Zidat, T., Gabirot, M., Bonadonna, F., Müller, C.T., 2023. Homing and Nest Recognition in Nocturnal Blue Petrels: What Scent May Attract Birds to their Burrows? J. Chem. Ecol. 49, 384-396.


Other relevant publications

Nesterova, A. P., Mardon, J. & Bonadonna, F. 2009. Orientation in a Crowded Environment: Can King Penguin Chicks (Aptenodytes patagonicus) Find Their Crèches? Journal of Experimental Biology, 212, 210-216.

Gagliardo, A., Bried, J., Lambardi, P., Luschi, P., Wikelski, M. & Bonadonna, F. 2013. Olfactory oceanic navigation in an Atlantic seabird. Journal of Experimental Biology, 216, 2798-2805.

Caro, S., Balthazart, J. & Bonadonna, F. 2015. The perfume of reproduction in birds: Chemosignalling in avian social life. Hormones and Behavior, 68, 25-42.

Gabirot, M., Raux, L., Dell'Ariccia, G., Bried, J., Ramos, R., Gonzalez Solis, J., Buatois, B., Crochet, P. A. & Bonadonna, F. 2016. Chemical labels differ between two closely related shearwater taxa. Journal of Avian Biology, 47, 1-12.

Cunningham, G. B., Leclaire, S., Toscani, C. & Bonadonna, F. 2016. Responses of King penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) adults and chicks to two food-related odours. Journal of Avian Biology, in press.

Dell'Ariccia, G., Phillips, R. A., van Franeker, J. A., Gaidet, N., Catry, P., Granadeiro, J. P., Ryan, P. G. & Bonadonna, F. 2017. Comment on “Marine plastic debris emits a keystone infochemical for olfactory foraging seabirds” by Savoca et al. Science Advances, 3, e1700526.

Bergès, M., Choquet, R., Bonadonna, F., 2019. Impact of long-term behavioural studies in the wild: the blue petrel (Halobaena caerulea) case at Kerguelen. Anim. Behav. 151, 53-65.

Potier, S., Duriez, O., Celerier, A., Liegeois, J.L., Bonadonna, F., 2019. Sight or smell: which sense do raptors trust to find food? Anim. Cogn. 22, 49-59.

Vianna, J.A., Fernandes, F.A.N., Frugone, M.J., Figueiro, H.V., Pertierra, L.R., Nolla, D., Bi, K., Wang-Claypool, C.Y., Lowther, A., Parker, P., Le Bohec, C., Bonadonna, F., Wienecke, B., Pistorius, P., Steinfurth, A., Burridge, C.P., Dantas, G.P.M., Poulin, E., Simison, W.B., Henderson, J., Eizirik, E., Nery, M.F., Bowie, R.C.K., 2020. Genome-wide analyses reveal drivers of penguin diversification. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 117, 22303-22310.

Gemard, C., Aubin, T., Reboud, E.L., Bonadonna, F., 2021. Call rate, fundamental frequency, and syntax determine male-call attractiveness in blue petrels Halobaena caerulea. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 75.

Danel, S., Zidat, T., Lucas, A., Biro, D., Bonadonna, F., 2021. First description of nest-decoration behaviour in a wild sub-Antarctic shorebird. Behav. Process. 188, 104408.

Caro, S.P., Pierre, L., Berges, M., Bakker, R., Doutrelant, C., Bonadonna, F., 2021. Mutual mate preferences and assortative mating in relation to a carotenoid-based color trait in blue tits. Behav. Ecol. 32, 1171-1182.

Danel, S., Rebout, N., Bonadonna, F., Biro, D., 2022. Wild skuas can follow human-given behavioural cues when objects resemble natural food. Anim. Cogn. 26, 709-713.

Danel, S., Bardon, G., de Franceschi, C., Bureau, L., Barbraud, C., Delord, K., Biro, D., Bonadonna, F., 2023. Plant consumer innovation in skuas. J. Ornithol. 164, 717-719.

Hadden, P.W., Vorobyev, M., Hadden, W.H., Bonadonna, F., McGhee, C.N.J., Zhang, J., 2023. Can penguins (Spheniscidae) see in the ultraviolet spectrum? Polar Biol. 46, 1111-1121.