Arnaud Da Silva

I studied biology at the University of Burgundy in France (2006-2011). During my MSc (2009-2011), I specialised in behavioural ecology and animal conservation and I completed two internships at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland in collaboration with Prof. Alexandre Roulin. I then conducted a PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany (2012-2016), under the supervision of Prof. Bart Kempenaers. I was particularly interested in the way artificial night lighting was impacting avian daily rhythms. Using a combination of both field observations and experiments, I showed that light pollution impacts singing behaviour on a daily and seasonal basis in some common species of songbirds, and that behavioural plasticity partly underlies the daily changes in timing of singing.

Following this work, I wanted to understand whether the phenotypic changes generally observed in urban birds were associated with genetic changes and whether light pollution was interacting synergistically with other anthropogenic factors for the make-up of urban phenotypes. To this end, I am now starting a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Urban Ecology and Evolution Lab at the CeNT in Warsaw, under the supervision of Dr. Marta Szulkin (2016-2018). There, I will be able to measure individual phenotypic and genetic changes along a gradient of urbanisation over several years.

Science aside, I am a bird lunatic, twitching and looking for feathery companions all over the world, from cities to untouched forests and aquatic environments. I am also fond of sports such as basketball, tennis, and football, as well as water activities.


Da Silva A., de Jong M., van Grunsven R.H.A., Visser M.E., Kempenaers B. & Spoelstra K. 2017. Experimental illumination of a forest: no effects of lights of different colours on the onset of the dawn chorus in songbirds. Royal Society Open Science 4:160638.

Da Silva A., Diez-Méndez D. & Kempenaers B. 2017. Effects of experimental night lighting on the daily timing of winter foraging in common European songbirds. Journal of Avian Biology 48:862-871.

Scriba M.F., Dreiss A.N., Henry I., Béziers P., Ruppli C., Ifrid E., Ducouret P., Da Silva A., des Monstiers B., Vyssotski A.L., Rattenborg N., Roulin A. 2017. Nocturnal, diurnal and bimodal patterns of locomotion, sibling interactions and sleep in nestling Barn Owls. Journal of Ornithology 1-12.

Da Silva A. & Kempenaers B. 2017. Singing from North to South: latitudinal variation in timing of dawn singing under natural and artificial light conditions. Journal of Animal Ecology (in press).

Da Silva A., Valcu M. & Kempenaers, B. 2016. Behavioural plasticity in the onset of dawn song under intermittent experimental night lighting. Animal Behaviour 117: 155-165.

Da Silva A., Valcu M. & Kempenaers B. 2015. Light pollution alters the phenology of dawn and dusk singing in common European songbirds. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B 370: 20140126.

de Jong M., Ouyang J.Q., Da Silva A., van Grunsven R.H.A., Kempenaers B., Visser M.E. & Spoelstra K. 2015. Effects of nocturnal illumination on life- history decisions and fitness in two wild songbird species. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B 370: 20140128.

Roulin A., des Monstiers B., Ifrid E., Da Silva A., Genzoni E. & Dreiss A.N. 2015. Reciprocal preening and food sharing in colour polymorphic nestling barn owls. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29: 380-394.

Da Silva A., Samplonius J.M., Schlicht E., Valcu M. & Kempenaers B. 2014. Artificial night lighting rather than traffic noise affects the daily timing of dawn and dusk singing in common European songbirds. Behavioral Ecology 255: 1037-1047.

Da Silva A., Brink V., Emaresi G., Luzio E., Bize P., Dreiss A.N. & Roulin A. 2013. Melanin-based colour polymorphism signals aggressive personality in nest and territory defence in the tawny owl (Strix aluco). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 677: 1041-1052.

Roulin A., Da Silva A. & Ruppli C.A. 2012. Dominant nestlings displaying female-like melanin coloration behave altruistically in the barn owl. Animal Behaviour 845: 1229-1236.