- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Movement Ecology
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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More than two billion birds migrate through the Gulf of Mexico each spring en route to breeding grounds in the USA and Canada. This region has a long history of complex natural and anthropogenic environments as the northern Gulf coast provides the first possible stopover habitats for migrants making nonstop trans‐Gulf crossings during spring migration. However, intense anthropogenic activity in the region, which is expanding rapidly at present, makes migrants vulnerable to a multitude of obstacles and increasingly fragments and alters these habitats. Understanding the timing of migrants' overwater arrivals has biological value for expanding our understanding of migration ecology relative to decision‐making for nonstop flights, and is imperative for advancing conservation of this critical region through the identification of key times in which to direct conservation actions (e.g. temporary halting of wind turbines, reduction of light pollution). We explored 10 years of weather surveillance radar data from five sites along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast to quantify the daily timing and intensity of arriving trans‐Gulf migrants. On a daily scale, we found that migrant intensity peaked an average of nine hours after local sunrise, occurring earliest at easternmost sites. On a seasonal level, the greatest number of arrivals occurred between late April and early May, with peak intensity occurring latest at westernmost sites. Overall intensity of migration across all 10 years of data was greatest at the westernmost sites and decreased moving farther to the east. These findings emphasize the differential spatial and temporal patterns of use of the Gulf of Mexico region by migrating birds, information that is essential for improving our understanding of the ecology of trans‐Gulf migration and for supporting data‐driven approaches to conservation actions for the migratory birds passing through this critical region.more » « less
The increasingly large volume of trajectories of moving entities obtained through GPS and cellphone tracking, telemetry, and other location‐aware technologies motivates researchers to understand the implicit patterns hidden in movement trajectories and understand how movement is influenced by the environmental context. Trajectory similarity serves as an important tool in computational movement analysis and as the foundation of revealing those patterns. However, there are various trajectory similarity measures, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we present a hierarchical clustering framework that integrates five commonly used similarity measures, including Fréchet distance, dynamic time warping, Hausdorff distance, longest common subsequence, and normalized weighted edit distance, a special kind of edit distance for movement analysis. The framework aims at clustering similar patterns and identifying variability in movement. The optimal number of clusters are first obtained. Then, the clusters are characterized by environmental variables to explore the associations between variability in movement and the environmental conditions. We evaluate the proposed framework using 15 years of tracking data of turkey vultures, tracked at 1‐ to 3‐h sampling intervals, during their fall and spring migration seasons. The results suggest that, at 5% significance level, turkey vultures select their movement paths intentionally and those selections appear to be related to certain environmental context variables, including thermal uplift, vegetation state (observed indirectly through Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), temperature, precipitation, tailwind, and crosswind. And interestingly, there exist preferential differences among individuals. Although the preference of the same turkey vulture is not strictly consistent over different years, each individual tends to preserve a more similar preference over different years, compared with the preferences of other turkey vultures.
The dynamic weather conditions that migrating birds experience during flight likely influence where they stop to rest and refuel, particularly after navigating inhospitable terrain or large water bodies, but effects of weather on stopover patterns remain poorly studied. We examined the influence of broad-scale weather conditions encountered by nocturnally migrating Nearctic-Neotropical birds during northward flight over the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) on subsequent coastal stopover distributions. We categorized nightly weather patterns using historic maps and quantified region-wide densities of birds in stopover habitat with data collected by 10 weather surveillance radars from 2008 to 2015. We found spring weather patterns over the GOM were most often favorable for migrating birds, with winds assisting northward flight, and document regional stopover patterns in response to specific unfavorable weather conditions. For example, Midwest Continental High is characterized by strong northerly winds over the western GOM, resulting in high-density concentrations of migrants along the immediate coastlines of Texas and Louisiana. We show, for the first time, that broad-scale weather experienced during flight influences when and where birds stop to rest and refuel. Linking synoptic weather patterns encountered during flight with stopover distributions contributes to the emerging macro-ecological understanding of bird migration, which is critical to consider in systems undergoing rapid human-induced changes.more » « less
Climate change is drastically changing the timing of biological events across the globe. Changes in the phenology of seasonal migrations between the breeding and wintering grounds have been observed across biological taxa, including birds, mammals, and insects. For birds, strong links have been shown between changes in migration phenology and changes in weather conditions at the wintering, stopover, and breeding areas. For other animal taxa, the current understanding of, and evidence for, climate (change) influences on migration still remains rather limited, mainly due to the lack of long‐term phenology datasets. Bracken Cave in Texas (USA) holds one of the largest bat colonies of the world. Using weather radar data, a unique 23‐year (1995–2017) long time series was recently produced of the spring and autumn migration phenology of Brazilian free‐tailed bats (
Tadarida brasiliensis) at Bracken Cave. Here, we analyse these migration phenology time series in combination with gridded temperature, precipitation, and wind data across Mexico and southern USA, to identify the climatic drivers of (changes in) bat migration phenology. Perhaps surprisingly, our extensive spatiotemporal search did not find temperature to influence either spring or autumn migration. Instead, spring migration phenology seems to be predominantly driven by wind conditions at likely wintering or spring stopover areas during the migration period. Autumn migration phenology, on the other hand, seems to be dominated by precipitation to the east and north‐east of Bracken Cave. Long‐term changes towards more frequent migration and favourable wind conditions have, furthermore, allowed spring migration to occur 16 days earlier. Our results illustrate how some of the remaining knowledge gaps on the influence of climate (change) on bat migration and abundance can be addressed using weather radar analyses.
Abstract Background Spawning migrations are a widespread phenomenon among fishes, often occurring in response to environmental conditions prompting movement into reproductive habitats (migratory cues). However, for many species, individual fish may choose not to migrate, and research suggests that conditions preceding the spawning season (migratory primers) may influence this decision. Few studies have provided empirical descriptions of these prior conditions, partly due to a lack of long-term data allowing for robust multi-year comparisons. To investigate how primers and cues interact to shape the spawning migrations of coastal fishes, we use acoustic telemetry data from Common Snook ( Centropomus undecimalis ) in Everglades National Park, Florida, USA. A contingent of Snook migrate between rivers and coastal spawning sites, varying annually in both the proportion of the population that migrates and the timing of migration within the spawning season. However, the specific environmental factors that serve as migratory primers and cues remain unknown. Methods We used eight years of acoustic telemetry data (2012–2019) from 173 tagged Common Snook to investigate how primers and cues influence migratory patterns at different temporal scales. We hypothesize that (1) interannual differences in hydrologic conditions preceding the spawning season contribute to the number of individuals migrating each year, and (2) specific environmental cues trigger the timing of migrations during the spawning season. We used GLMMs to model both the annual and seasonal migratory response in relation to flow characteristics (water level, rate of change in water level), other hydrologic/abiotic conditions (temperature, salinity), fish size, and phenological cues independent of riverine conditions (photoperiod, lunar cycle). Results We found that the extent of minimum marsh water level prior to migration and fish size influence the proportion of Snook migrating each year, and that high river water level and daily rates of change serve as primary cues triggering migration timing. Conclusion Our findings illustrate how spawning migrations are shaped by environmental factors acting at different temporal scales and emphasize the importance of long-term movement data in understanding these patterns. Research providing mechanistic descriptions of conditions that promote migration and reproduction can help inform management decisions aimed at conserving ecologically and economically important species.more » « less