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Avian Migration

This is an article collection published in Avian Research.

Edited by: Kasper Thorup, Lei Cao, Anthony David Fox, Zhijun Ma

Two hundred and fifty years ago, the British naturalist Gilbert White was conflicted between his belief that Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) migrated to warmer climes in winter versus the prevailing view that they hibernated in the bottom of lake. Two hundred years later, metal leg ring recoveries revolutionised our understanding of bird migration and confirmed that White’s suspicions were correct. In the last thirty years, the application of miniaturized telemetry devices have similarly revolutionised our knowledge of the migration patterns of large-bodied birds. Technological tracking of the movements in time and space of individual birds are providing us with great insight about when, how and why birds migrate along their migration routes. Many migratory birds depend on islands of suitable habitat to navigate their way between breeding and wintering areas, but the integrity of their flyways are increasingly threatened by major environmental change (such as unsustainable harvest, habitat loss/degradation and climate change).  It is ever more urgent, therefore, that we use information from telemetry studies to inform us about flyways and population definition, the timing and flexibility of migration schedules, the physiology during migration and strategies adopted to pass between vast tracts of uninhabitable terrain between breeding, staging and wintering areas. Given our global responsibility for protecting these shared populations, we also need to exploit telemetry information to identify the key staging habitats exploited along their migration routes and to determine whether our site-safeguard networks are fit for purpose in delivering effective cohesive protected areas sufficient to provide adequate resources to safeguard these populations for future generations.

The expanding activity and increasing interest in bird telemetry has created a unique momentum in this research field. This collection is focusing on the functional benefits of modern telemetry to the research and conservation of birds, especially of waterbirds. It brings together research based on different methods using different study species, to attempt to synthesize across experiences for the benefit of next generation studies. 

Published articles in this collection

  1. Unlike resident birds, migratory birds are generally believed to have evolved to enhance flight efficiency; however, direct evidence is still scarce due to the difficulty of measuring the flight speed and mech...

    Authors: Yang Wang, Yuan Yin, Zhipeng Ren, Chuan Jiang, Yanfeng Sun, Juyong Li, Ghulam Nabi, Yuefeng Wu and Dongming Li

    Citation: Avian Research 2020 11:25

    Content type: Research

    Published on:

  2. Conserving migratory birds is challenging due to their reliance on multiple distant sites at different stages of their annual life cycle. The concept of “flyway”, which refers to all areas covered by the breed...

    Authors: Fenliang Kuang, Jonathan T. Coleman, Chris J. Hassell, Kar-Sin K. Leung, Grace Maglio, Wanjuan Ke, Chuyu Cheng, Jiayuan Zhao, Zhengwang Zhang and Zhijun Ma

    Citation: Avian Research 2020 11:24

    Content type: Research

    Published on: