Migratory decisions in a changing world: mechanisms and drivers of changing migratory behaviour

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Evidence is growing that the migration behaviour of many species is changing in response to environmental change, with resident individuals being reported in previously wholly migratory populations and increases in the proportion of non-migrants being reported for a range of bird species in Europe. These rapid changes in migratory behaviour provide an opportunity to identify the control mechanisms underpinning these complex and highly evolved behaviours, and thus their capacity to adapt to changing environmental conditions. This project will fill a major current gap in migration science, by identifying the mechanisms influencing demography and behaviour of migratory and non-migratory individuals, and it will contribute to the understanding of the capacity for migratory behaviour to respond to rapid environmental change. As many migratory bird species are currently suffering rapid population declines, and many migratory species are hunted in Southern Europe, understanding these mechanisms is necessary to allow predictions of future changes in migratory bird populations, which is key to improve the effectiveness of protected area networks across Europe and Africa, and to reduce potential conflicts between migratory species and human activities.

The capacity for migratory behaviour to adapt to environmental changes will be influenced by whether individuals can alter their migration strategies, or whether changes in relative fitness are required to alter the proportions of differing strategies in a population. Facultative changes in individual migration strategies are likely to allow more rapid responses to environmental change, but such control mechanisms may be influenced by social or environmental factors. Identifying the control mechanisms influencing changes in migration systems therefore requires a study system in which individual migration strategies, their consistency and demographic consequences can all be quantified.

The proposed study involves a species of migratory bird for which there is annual variation in migration and for which individuals have been tracked on their migratory journeys: lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni). We aim to identify the mechanisms enabling changes in migratory behaviour by exploring the influence of social relationships, behavioural adaptations and heritability on individual migration strategies. We will incorporate this information in population models in order to explore the relative importance of individual plasticity in behaviour and demographic variation in altering rates and patterns of change in migratory behaviour, and the potential influence of future changes in climatic conditions and resource availability.

This project will produce results of considerable practical value, as well as addressing fundamental questions about the mechanisms underlying changes in migratory behaviour. Understanding the capacity for migratory behaviour to adapt to changing environmental conditions is key to predicting future changes in migratory populations, identifying and implementing appropriate conservation strategies, and exploring the role of these changes in the ongoing population declines of many Afro-Palearctic migratory bird species.

Planned Impact

Policy-makers and practitioners urgently want to include environmental change adaptation strategies for biodiversity in their conservation and land-management policies. Changing behaviour of migratory species of birds poses several challenges: for conservation biologists interested in the protection of endangered species it will be important to be able to predict how these changes will affect the conservation status of species and how distribution changes may be included in the design of protected areas for conservation; for land managers interested in maximizing agricultural outputs, it will be important to understand which new species may occur in their lands and how population sizes will change, in order to implement management techniques that minimize potential conflicts with wildlife. In Southern European countries many migratory species are hunted, and current changes in the migratory behaviour of species are likely to increase the exposure of migratory species to hunting pressure, thus understanding the consequences of changing migratory behaviour at the population level will be essential for sustainable exploitation of hunted migratory species. Developing a strong evidence base for predictions of future changes in migratory behaviour in response to environmental change will be key in enabling the development of conservation and management decisions and adaptation measures. Our main research programme will investigate how environmental change may influence individual migratory decisions and demographic changes within migratory populations. In addition to supporting the development of conservation strategies for migratory species, our study will: (1) stimulate public involvement in the conservation of endangered species through the development of a website where the general public and visitors of LPN's Environmental Education Centre can see the activity inside lesser kestrel nest sites during the whole breeding season (2) train volunteers to identify lesser kestrels and to collaborate in national lesser kestrel census; (3) develop an education kit for school children to engage with the importance of conservation of migratory species and the need for evidence-based conservation. The main findings will be published in peer reviewed journals, on the web and, in conservation reports to ensure they will reach all stakeholders and the wider public.
 
Title Bird migration- why is it changing 
Description This is a video about the NERC project, its aims and findings so far. It focuses on the the need to understand changes in bird migratory behaviour in a changing world. https://vimeo.com/151900214 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact This film will be publicized in bird fairs in Spain and Portugal. It was publised by the Estacion Biologica de Donana our project partners in Spain and LPN, our project collaborators in Portugal. 
URL https://vimeo.com/151900214
 
Description We aim to:
- better understand bird migratory decisions
- help plan protected areas for migratory birds
- contribute with information to the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS)
- create a new low cost low weight logger that can be accessible to researchers from developing countries, improving knowledge of migratory birds worldwide

We have demonstrated that migratory species with limited capacity to adapt their migratory strategy and with narrow range wintering areas in relation to the breeding areas are more likely to be declining. The Ecology Letters paper provides insights on why migratory birds are declining and enables conservation practicioners to identify the species that are vulnerable to declines and that may need further protection measures.
Exploitation Route We have not yet concluded this project. We have achieved our objectives so far. We are working on publications that will summarise the remaining findings of this project.
The results of this project have been used to prioritise conservation actions by the Estacion Biologica de Donana. New nest boxes were placed to contribute to the species conservation in the area.We have created a game on bird migration that has been displayed and used for public engagement in the Norwich Science Festival.
Sectors Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

URL http://www.uea.ac.uk/lesser-kestrel-migration/
 
Description We have produced several peer-reviewed publications. These have shown that migratory species with restricted wintering ranges are more vulnerable to environmental change and need further conservation action. Work done in Southern Spain has lead to the implementation of conservation measures. Collaboration with partners in Portugal and Spain resulted in further research being funded to understand how environmental change is driving changes in the migratory behaviour of bird species. We have used our expertise to improve the design of GPS/GSM tracking devices. This project led to the production of a video to raise awareness for changes in the migratory behaviour of birds in recent decades, this has been subtitled in English and in Spanish and has been displayed in Bird fairs in Spain: https://vimeo.com/151900214 .
Sector Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal

 
Description FCT - Portugal PhD studentship -Colonial breeding in mixed-species assemblages
Amount € 62,000 (EUR)
Organisation Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (Portugal) 
Sector Academic/University
Country Portugal
Start 03/2018 
End 08/2021
 
Description Foundation for Science and Technology standard grant
Amount € 238,000 (EUR)
Organisation Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (Portugal) 
Sector Academic/University
Country Portugal
Start 06/2018 
End 05/2021
 
Description Mechanisms driving changes in the migratory behaviour of long-lived birds in response to global environmental change
Amount £8,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of East Anglia 
Department EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2018
 
Description NEXUSS CDT PhD studentship GPU-Accelerated 3D Visualisation and Analysis of Migratory Behaviour of Long Lived Birds
Amount £54,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 1942135 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2020
 
Description NEXUSS CDT PhD studentship Improving detection and estimation of birds' collision risk with energy infrastructure
Amount £54,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 2105436 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 09/2021
 
Description NEXUSS CDT PhD studentship The environmental determinants of dispersal and migratory behaviour of long lived birds
Amount £54,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 1942320 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2021
 
Description NRP innovation fund
Amount £52,000 (GBP)
Organisation Norwich Research Park 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 07/2016
 
Description UEA Proof of Concept funding
Amount £12,206 (GBP)
Organisation University of East Anglia 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2014 
End 04/2015
 
Description BIRDS ON THE MOVE: adaptive migratory behaviour in response to global environmental change 
Organisation University of Lisbon
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is a collaboration I have with a colleague in Portugal. My colleague has an Research fellowship and has recently managed to obtain funding (€237,903.54) from the Foundation for Science and Technology in Portugal for the project BIRDS ON THE MOVE: adaptive migratory behaviour in response to global environmental change" in which I am a co-Investigator. The project will enable new research to be done and new tracking devices to be bought.
Collaborator Contribution My partner will help supervise PhD students will contribute with her time training the students in the field. Shewill also help deploying tracking devices on birds and collecting and analysing the data generated.
Impact Peer-review publications, presentations and posters at conferences.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Movetech project 
Organisation British Trust for Ornithology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are developing new low-cost light-weight solar GPS/GSM loggers that can be used to track wildlife. At the moment the lightest on the market is 17g and we are testing a 12g device. This project started by the need to obtain high spatial and temporal resolution location data for our study species. We have now developed a solution that delivers the quantity and quality of the data required but we are pursuing the development of lower weight devices that can be used on a larger number of species. I coordinate the project, arrange meetings, coordinate the work that is being developed, coordinate the tests of all the components, the colleague from Portugal is responsible for the software development and testing and the colleague from the BTO is responsible for the hardware solutions and integration of all the components, he is also coordinating the development of new solutions.
Collaborator Contribution We discuss new ideas, final products that need to be developed and components that we want to test. We discuss the development of software and the features that need to be included. This is a joint project we are all heavily involved and discuss all stages of the project. We have our areas of expertise, my colleague fron the BTO is responsible for the financial aspects of the project and my colleague from the University of Lisbon is responsible for the testing of the new software developed.
Impact 1- New settings for power management and geofencing; 2- New PCB module (3.8g) which has enabled us to produce a 12g tracking device; 3- New light weight solar cell identified for new light weight Movetech Telemetry device; 4- New harvester developed enabling an effective management of the battery preventing undercharging and overcharging; 5- Consolidation of solutions for the larger devices, the Movetech Telemetry group can now produce a range of devices: 12g, 20g, 25g, 30g 50g and a goose collar; 6- New website for the Movetech Telemetry group finalized bin March 2017 and press release advertising at UEA, BTO and in Portugal.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Movetech project 
Organisation University of Lisbon
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are developing new low-cost light-weight solar GPS/GSM loggers that can be used to track wildlife. At the moment the lightest on the market is 17g and we are testing a 12g device. This project started by the need to obtain high spatial and temporal resolution location data for our study species. We have now developed a solution that delivers the quantity and quality of the data required but we are pursuing the development of lower weight devices that can be used on a larger number of species. I coordinate the project, arrange meetings, coordinate the work that is being developed, coordinate the tests of all the components, the colleague from Portugal is responsible for the software development and testing and the colleague from the BTO is responsible for the hardware solutions and integration of all the components, he is also coordinating the development of new solutions.
Collaborator Contribution We discuss new ideas, final products that need to be developed and components that we want to test. We discuss the development of software and the features that need to be included. This is a joint project we are all heavily involved and discuss all stages of the project. We have our areas of expertise, my colleague fron the BTO is responsible for the financial aspects of the project and my colleague from the University of Lisbon is responsible for the testing of the new software developed.
Impact 1- New settings for power management and geofencing; 2- New PCB module (3.8g) which has enabled us to produce a 12g tracking device; 3- New light weight solar cell identified for new light weight Movetech Telemetry device; 4- New harvester developed enabling an effective management of the battery preventing undercharging and overcharging; 5- Consolidation of solutions for the larger devices, the Movetech Telemetry group can now produce a range of devices: 12g, 20g, 25g, 30g 50g and a goose collar; 6- New website for the Movetech Telemetry group finalized bin March 2017 and press release advertising at UEA, BTO and in Portugal.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Movetech project 
Organisation University of Porto
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are developing new low-cost light-weight solar GPS/GSM loggers that can be used to track wildlife. At the moment the lightest on the market is 17g and we are testing a 12g device. This project started by the need to obtain high spatial and temporal resolution location data for our study species. We have now developed a solution that delivers the quantity and quality of the data required but we are pursuing the development of lower weight devices that can be used on a larger number of species. I coordinate the project, arrange meetings, coordinate the work that is being developed, coordinate the tests of all the components, the colleague from Portugal is responsible for the software development and testing and the colleague from the BTO is responsible for the hardware solutions and integration of all the components, he is also coordinating the development of new solutions.
Collaborator Contribution We discuss new ideas, final products that need to be developed and components that we want to test. We discuss the development of software and the features that need to be included. This is a joint project we are all heavily involved and discuss all stages of the project. We have our areas of expertise, my colleague fron the BTO is responsible for the financial aspects of the project and my colleague from the University of Lisbon is responsible for the testing of the new software developed.
Impact 1- New settings for power management and geofencing; 2- New PCB module (3.8g) which has enabled us to produce a 12g tracking device; 3- New light weight solar cell identified for new light weight Movetech Telemetry device; 4- New harvester developed enabling an effective management of the battery preventing undercharging and overcharging; 5- Consolidation of solutions for the larger devices, the Movetech Telemetry group can now produce a range of devices: 12g, 20g, 25g, 30g 50g and a goose collar; 6- New website for the Movetech Telemetry group finalized bin March 2017 and press release advertising at UEA, BTO and in Portugal.
Start Year 2013
 
Title Tracking devices 
Description The Movetech telemetry group developed new GPS/GSM tracking devices that have a specific and versatile software that enables remote tracking and download of animal movement data. We now have developed solutions using Long Range wireless technology that have been tested on birds and will be tested on mammals during 2020. 
Type Of Technology Physical Model/Kit 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact These devices generated data that was included in 8 publications and the devices have now been used in 29 species all over the world. The data generated by the devices has been used for management and conservation of wildlife. 
URL http://www.movetech-telemetry.com
 
Description 9th Conference of the European Ornithologists Union 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact I organised a symposium on effects of climate change on Mediterranean species and invited several experts to talk. The symposium attracted many people (students and colleagues) and we had a lively a post-symposium discussion.

After the symposium I have established several contacts and am now co-organising another conference as a result.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.eounion.org/pdf/EOU_Norwich_2013_Abstract.pdf
 
Description BOU conference "Birds in space and time: avian tracking and remote sensing" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Co-organised the BOU meeting. This was a meeting attended by more than 200 people, it was fully booked and enabled the scientific community to communicate recent research and advances in the field of animal moment
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bou.org.uk/bou2015-avian-tracking-conference/
 
Description Invited speaker at RPSB seminar series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was an invited speaker to talk about tracking devices and the research results from the use of the tracking devices.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.movetech-telemetry.com
 
Description Invited speaker at University of Reading 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation about changes in the migratory behaviour of birds. Staff and students attended the seminar
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited speaker at the University of Madrid 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited speaker to talk about my research at the University of Madrid
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at University of Cambridge 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation on the results of the project looking at change in the migratory behaviour of birds
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at University of Essex 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact presentation about recent changes in the movement ecology of animals
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at University of Manchester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation on changes of migratory behaviour of birds
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation for the York Ornithological Club 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation with the results of the project focusing on changes in the migratory behaviour of birds
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description TIBE 2017 Bio-Logging 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was an invited speaker at the symposium and talked about the features and characteristics of the new tracking devices the Movetech group, which I co-ordinate, is developing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.movetech-telemetry.com
 
Description the 5th International Bio-logging Science Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked several interesting questions and discussions afterwards on the use of accelerometer data

established contacts for a future EU project submission
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://bls5.sciencesconf.org/resource/page?id=1