Protecting Migratory Animals: Identifying Constraints to Migration and Reproduction

Understanding animal migration

Each year, billions of animals migrate across the planettracking resources, evading predators, and reproducing. Migration results in changes to the communities through which migrants pass, extreme alterations to habitat, and movements of parasites and diseases across continents. To better understand the causes, consequences, and patterns of animal migration, Institute Research Fellow Adam Fudickar will compare a broad array of annual movement strategies in both wild and captive animals, including birds. 

Using observational and experimental studies, Fudickar’s work will focus on the flexibility of migratory animals’ annual schedules in seasonal environments and a broad understanding of animals’ capacity to adapt to a changing environment. Specifically, Fudickar will investigate the environmental cues and physiological and genetic mechanisms that determine when migratory animals transition between annual stages (e.g. migration to reproduction). 

Bird populations face novel challenges in regard to global change. By identifying the environmental, hormonal, and genetic mechanisms that determine the seasonal onset of migration and reproduction, researchers will be able to predict the likelihood that populations may persist and adapt—or not—in response to rapidly changing environments.