MIGRATE: Notes of first meeting


Dates: 8-11 March 2007

Location: Sweet Briar College, Sweetbriar, Virginia


Participants (contact information in appendix)


Lead investigators

Jeff Kelly – University of Oklahoma

Sarah Mabey – Sweet Briar College

Frank Moore - University of Southern Mississippi

James A. Smith - NASA

Tom Smith - UCLA



Stuart Bearhop – University of Exeter

Carroll Belser – Clemson University

Keith Bildstein – Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Isabella Bisson – Princeton University

Gabriel Bowen – Purdue University

Melissa Bowlin – Princeton University

Lincoln Brower – Sweet Briar College

Jeff Buler – USGS National Wetland Research Center

Antonio Cellis – NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Jill Deppe – NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Robb Diehl – University of Southern Mississippi

Linda Fink – Sweet Briar College

Adam Fudickar – University of Oklahoma

Sid Gauthreaux  Clemson University

Chris Guglielmo – University of Western Ontario

Sue Haig – USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Ctr.

Keith Hobson – Canadian Wildlife Service

Darren Irwin – University of British Columbia

Alex Jahn – University of Florida

Eileen Kirsch – USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Tom Kunz – Boston University

Keith Larson – Klamath Bird Observatory

Astalfo Mata – Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas

Ryan Norris  University of Guelph

Jackie Parrite – Oklahoma Biological Survey

Kristina Paxton – University of Southern Mississippi

Doug Robinson – Oregon State University

Judy Shamoun-Baranes – Universiteit van Amsterdam

Susan Skagen – USGS Fort Collins Science Center

Fernando Spina – Instituto Nazionale per la Selvatica

Caz Taylor – Simon Fraser University

Kasper Thorup – Natural History Museum of Denmark

Len Wassemaar – Environment Canada

David Winkler – Cornell University

Michael Wunder –Colorado State University


Reporter: Ellen Paul – Ornithological Council


See MIGRATE website at http://www.migrate.ou.edu/index.htm for a full list of collaborators.






Research Coordination Networks


J. Kelly – explained the purpose and restrictions of an NSF Research Coordination Network. The Network can’t fund research but can fund all the activities around it so the group needs to decide what they want to do – what are the most important questions that need to be answered. The networking began about five years ago with informal discussions <see http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=11691&org=NSF&sel_org=NSF&from=fund for information about the Research Coordination Networks in Biological Sciences grants>


S. Mabey – The NSF RCN is designed to create the amorphous entities that bring people together to generate ideas and is interested in more than single ideas. All the collaborators are dreaming about how to track birds across space and time. It is compelling and exciting and will push forward work in ecology, evolution, and conservation. What made this proposal stand out were some of the subtle aspects of the program that NSF wants to promote. When the principal invesigators were drafting the proposal they paid close attention to NSF’s program goals, including opportunities to enhance education – undergrad and grad training not just in ecology but across disciplines. The idea is to pull together ecologists, biomathemeticians, biochemists, etc and give students the tools they need to succeed as scientists in today’s environment. This is a major goal of this RCN and they hope to start developing training courses as soon - as possible but certainly over the next five years – to give students exposure to and training in techniques across fields.


Another idea is that network will evolve over time. It is meant to be dynamic, not stay static over time. Membership should evolve and grow over the five years.


It is also important to include underrepresented groups and the RCN will look to fields other than ecology may have greater mix of people. When writing the proposal the principal investigators thought about how the host institutions could feed into this goal – e.g., University of Southern Mississippi has structures to promote increase of minorities in science. So network is connected to these existing structures.


These components probably gave this proposal an edge. It is important to think about how to build these components as they move into discussions.


J. Smith – recommended that if collaborators visit NSF, they visit the program manager (Peter McCartney, Biological Infrastucture – e-mail = biorcn@nsf.gov, phone = 703 292-8470) and say a few good words.


Review of agenda


Wednesday 8 May

Session I: Identify the “big questions” in bird migration (starts at page 5)

Session II: Dicuss the pros, cons of focusing on certain species, groups (starts at page 15)


Thursday 9 May

Session III: Technologies for tracking (starts at page 24)


Session IV: Analytical challenges – how to bring together (starts at page 35)


Saturday 10 May

Morning - Time for collaborations that form during conference to sit and talk about what they want to do together


Session V: Afternoon – figure out how the network infrastructure will work – committees who will decide who will do what, what the training courses will look like, who will teach, where held, how to enhance existing courses, governance issues (who does what, tenure)

(Starts at page 39)


Sunday 11 May

Session VI: What next for the coming year? What sort of products are reasonable to try for?

(Starts at page XX)


  • Success depends on participation and open dialogue
  • Keep thinking about synthesis program – use mental model of an edited volume – questions, model species, technologies, analytical methods – during breakouts and discussion forums, think about what the network can do that will strengthen your research program or allow you to do things that you couldn’t do because you didn’t have the collaborators or funding for non-research components of the work – keep thinking about the product that will advance the purpose of the RCN




The PIs anticipate that the projects that develop from the MIGRATE RCN will fall into one of these four big categories:









K. Hobson: does NSF require a product – e.g., a report


J. Kelly: Expectations are the same for any NSF grant; the PIs have to show that they have supported activities that support grant proposals submitted and that support scientific publications, but there is no specific requirement of a written product


S. Mabey: We do need to have the infrastructure ready to go by Sunday so PIs can report to NSF how the network will operate. NSF needs a tangible product and the RCN should track things like grant proposals and papers generated out of this meeting; should also write up things like training proposals


J. Smith: The RCN is really an enabler of science, so useful products would also include things like special sessions at scientific meetings. Keep the NSF program manager well-informed and invite him to meetings.


K. Paxton: To what extent does the education mandate go beyond courses for undergrads and grads - does it also include K-12, training?


S. Mabey: They proposed undergrad and grad courses – intensive experience with field techniques in field ecology and biomaps, engineering, wireless sensor networks, ecology, biochem. It was envisioned as an intensive, cross-disciplinary course for students but others could participate. They also proposed lab exchange visits so one person could go to another university to learn another technique; the RCN can fund that and it includes the RCN participants though the bulk of the resources are for students. They also included public education/outreach -such as citizen science – as an avenue for teaching (e.g., how to collect data for network-sponsored activities) but also to get information out to the general public. Unfortunately, people in this network are not well connected to existing migration projects.


S. Gauthreaux: What is the anthropocentric aspects of the issue?


J. Kelly: Issues such as bird collisions with aircraft. These may not be conservation issues, but it pertains to any issues involving humans.


S. Gauthreaux: Does citizen science come under that heading, e.g., developers of wind farms have no idea that most migration takes place at night. Would this be considered education?


S. Mabey: Education crosses the categories


J. Kelly: That is for the RCN to decide – these are categories to start with but the RCN  will decide how to organize itself.


D. Winkler: Another kind of anthropocentric activity would be using migratory birds as a way to attract people to educational activities – particularly the “amazing” migrants such as Blackpoll Warblers or Bar-tailed Godwits.


Breakout groups


J. Kelly:  Charge to breakout groups - the overarching question is this: in the next five years, if you had better ability to track your migrants, over their entire lives, what questions would you ask first?


- What is the state of the knowledge regarding that question now?

- Where are the cutting edges?

- What are the critical data that are needed (about individuals, populations, particular parameters)?

- How does this network fit into that?

- Define success of the network (not for individual investigators, but what did the network do to help get this knowledge or improve the ability to get this knowledge).


Full group brainstorm session preceded breakout to identify major questions


K. Hobson:  What factors affect ultimate fitness of individuals throughout their migratory cycle – what happens at one point of that cycle that affects lifetime fitness


Speaker?: What factors limit or regulate populations


D. Robinson: When do birds die? Post-fledging survival is a big unknown, annual survival.


S. Gauthreaux:  We need to also know where and how bird die.


I. Bisson: We should be tracking partially migratory species to see if they can change that strategy based on environmental factors


S. Bearhap:  We need to identify the extrinsic and intrinsic factors, e.g. correlation between selection and fitness. What factors result from intrinsic qualities of individuals vs. habitat quality?


D. Robinson: Plasticity of migration  - so we can address responses of birds to climate change.


D. Winkler: There are two fundamental operational questions – where is bird when throughout annual cycle and aspects of its state at each point (localization and state). This information would allow us to answer the larger questions.


D. Irwin: When 2 groups of highly divergent migrants come together, where do the hybrids go?


J. Parrite: What is the best conservation strategy to protect migratory bird populations? Where should we be preserving land and how much?


L. Wassemaar: Where do birds come from and where do they go?


E. Kirsch:  How much mortality can we influence and how much is beyond our reach e.g., weather-related?


S. Haig: Compare migrants w/ residents that occupy the same space in time, to get ideas of limiting factors for each (of same species).


M. Bowlin:  How and why does migration evolve? Look at migrants and residents. of same species to get at that question.


S. Gauthreaux: Tease apart dispersal movements from migration and how they might be linked, if at all.


S. Bearhop:  Nonconspecifics are of interest, too, especially on wintering grounds, because resident fauna interact with the migrants.


S. Skagen: Is there a threshhold beyond which the plasticity can’t allow the birds to deal with a given challenge? Example: intensity of diet changes on wintering grounds and interactions with similar resident species


J. Shamoun-Baranes: How to use tracking and how it will get at some of these questions – won’t get at individual interactions so what other techniques are needed.


R. Norris: Optimizing habitat conservation decisions – conservation plans might otherwise make wrong choices.


K. Hobson: From a conservation perspective we need to know spatial pattern of young of year production – where are they produced (spatially). Isotopes can fingerprint where they are coming from and which habitats.


I. Bisson:  We need more information about tropical (austral) migration systems.


S. Haig: Where birds find their mates – what stage of the annual cycle, what point in life?


R. Diehl: How birds behave in the air – responses to weather, geographic barriers.


J. Kelly:  Migratory strategies, e.g., how much time in flight and how that might change.


J. Deppe: Focus on fall migration – time limits, energy limits – might get at strategies e.g., how long at stopover sites.


S. Skagen: An emerging question in the West – are there specific sites for molting stages?


S. Gauthreaux: Site fidelity w/ respect to sites along migration routes – how constant over multiple seasons do birds use the same routes and stopover areas?


J. Kelly: Think about to what extent this network ought to be interested in taxa other than birds and what commonalities are uniform about long distance movement.


J. Parrite: What answers would be most valuable in trying teach migration to people who are not scientists about the value and importance of bird migration.


K. Thorup: Tracking gives us a unique opportunity to follow individuals. To date it has been population level but tracking allows us to get at the individuals that make up the population.


Understanding intrinsic v. extrinsic factors necessary to figure out what we can/cannot do to respond


C. Guglielmo: How do you measure intrinsic factors – physiological v. behavioral and how to measure constraints – what technologies can be used?


S. Mabey: Tracking individuals and offspring also allows us to study genetics.


D. Winkler: Individual-level data will allow us to reconstruct what birds have experienced in the environment during their travels – there are physiological constraints and information constraints (what the animal can know and how it can use that information to respond)


K. Bildstein: Hawk Mountain tracked 2 vultures that stopped periodically to socialize with other individuals and then moved on alone. Another 2 birds on the West Coast migrated together and split up and bred 500 miles apart but then migrated together again in the same flock. We need to identify different models.


T. Kunz: Bring in atmospheric scientists who can model the extrinsic factors – this has been overlooked and should be integrated despite problems of scale (e.g., Google Earth, air masses and currents). Scale is very important because to answer questions about state of bird at point in time, space requires info about the environment at those places and times


S. Gauthreaux: What does “tracking” imply?


J. Kelly: He means it as some probabilistic understanding of where an individual is at some point in its life. It can include real-time GPS or satellite tracking to intrinsic marker of a location.


S. Gauthreaux: Or it can mean a band on a leg and a network of observatories.


J. Kelly: Different data permit different inferences.


K. Hobson: What factors affect ultimate fitness of individuals throughout their migratory cycle – what happens at one point of that cycle that affects lifetime fitness? What factors regulate populations?


Organizing breakouts to discuss big questions in bird migration


Groups (organized by numbering off) should discuss:

1 - Population dynamics (ecological, conservation perspectives)

2- Individual fitness

3- Evolution of behavior in migration – plasticity v. constraints (evolutionary history) and how they respond over ecological timeframes to changes. This can have different perspectives, including:


Population v. individual

Environments through which animals move



4- Interaction w/ environment (habitat, landscape, atmospheric). Consider these aspects:


In flight v. on ground

 Pre, post, during migration phases of annual cycle


Final instructions to breakout groups (J. Kelly):

  • Keep focused on how this will lead to research questions
  • Try to integrate across annual cycle so probably not best to break into groups that focus on individual components of the cycle
  • Increase knowledge of migratory systems
  • Look at the NSF programs – Division of Environmental Biology, Infrastructure, Behavioral, etc. – which division would you submit your proposals to?


Each of the six breakout groups was asked to discuss all four topics and identify the most pressing research topics


Breakout reporting


Group 1


1.                  Migration Plasticity (lump with # 3, also Global Climate Change)

a.       In flight: Need to know mortality, patterns across time and space (longitude/latitude/altitude)

b.      How quickly can populations adapt to change? particularly with respect to migratory pathways and patterns

c.       What are the anthropogenic effects on migration patterns?

d.      Need to be able to follow individuals on migration

e.       Need to understand how different populations react to these conditions to understand plasticity potential—need to be able to address these questions for populations across the species range

2.                  Evolution of Migration Behavior

a.       How quickly can you see a response in individuals/populations?

b.      Can individuals develop new plasticity?

c.       Need to have enough time for genetics to change in population, for selection to operate.

d.      How is migration evolving now?  Why? 

e.       Understand the effects of climate change on migration.

f.        What are commonalities among taxa (avian and other) in migration patterns/strategies, etc.

3.                  Mortality – where/how do birds die?

a.       Link estimates of productivity and mortality per population in space and time.

b.      Link above to what is going on climatically

c.       Determine what age/sex/phase of the annual cycle mortality occurs.

d.      How is it related to land cover and change?

4.                  Population Connectivity/Disease Transmission

a.       Need to understand migration patterns to understand DT.

b.      Need to understand if migratory birds actually transmit disease to humans.

c.       Need to understand population connectivity throughout the annual cycle.

5.                  Effect of human-induced habitat change on -

a.       Stopover sites

b.      Productivity and survival

6.                  Potential products from MIGRATE:

a.       Review paper summarizing what is known about what has been learned about the effects of global climate change on birds (and other taxa) with associated searchable/updated database

b.      Review paper summarizing what we know about population connectivity throughout the annual cycle and how it could effect disease transmission with associated searchable/updated database

c.       Technology development

d.      Data sharing


Group 2

  1. Population Dynamics

a. Does most mortality take place during migration?

b. What is the annual pattern of mortality and how does it change from year to year?

                  c. Mortality detection: Heart-rate transmitters, temperature sensors, motion detectors

      d. What is the importance of weather vs. other causes?

                  e. Residents, facultative and obligate migrants….

      f. Interaction of dispersal and migration

      g. Annual patterns of mortality require refining distinctions between different phases

      of movement (esp. dispersal vs. migration).

  1. Fitness—Individual level

a.       What is the relative role of adaptation and constraint in effecting individual patterns and processes of individual movements?

b.      What are the effects of age on migratory performance, how long do they last and are there senescence effects?

c.       What is the biological basis of individual and age-related differences in performance?

d.      How do differences in migration distance and proximity to goal influence migratory tactics?

e.       How do individual level changes relate to population mean differences as emergent properties?

f.        How do differences in wintering and staging areas and timing influence the timing of migration and return?

g.       How do the timing of migration and return relate to fitness differences on the breeding grounds?

h.       How do challenges during migration affect timing and fitness? Great opportunity for experiments?

i.         What is the optimal quantity of data to be gathered to answer our questions? How much data is too much?

j.        Very important to develop articulations with environmental variation at many scales and many data sources.

k.      How do we deal with the bioinformatics challenge of doing statistics and inference—radar data as an example, but we need data standards and AI-like data analysis tools.

l.         Which of the following variable have the most promise for monitoring state? heart rate, skin temperature, mass or wing-loading…

m.     Is hypothermia a part of migrant’s energy management strategy.

(Problem with heart-rate is variation in organ size (hearts get 30% bigger))

These raise the possibility of really realistic experiments, manipulations of state directly or translocation to different habitats—looking at how movement responds…


  1. Evolution of Migration
    1. Behavior of birds across migratory divides, within different segments of

heterogeneous populations

    1. What is the relative role of physiological vs. genetic change in effecting patterns

 of movement?

    1. Mixed ESS’s vs. conditional strategies.
    2. Within population vs. between population comparisons. Costs and benefits of each.
    3. Track vagrants or displaced birds.
    4. Are vagrants more or less vulnerable to parasites, and are parasite densities Cross-validation with Emlen cages.
    5. Microevolutionary approaches should be emphasized?
  1. Interactions with the Environment
    1. How do micrometerological variables (temperature, wind speed and direction) affect flight behavior (including wing-beat, heart-rate).
    2. In post-migration dispersal, do the rules for straying vs. homing relate to habitat patchiness, stability and predictability as they do in salmon?
    3. Need to look at Science Dispersal issue from July 2006?
    4. Can we tag predators to look at the dynamics of predation risk?
    5. Are birds on edges of ranges more or less likely to move?
    6. What are the constraints against spatial sampling? What causes so many birds to appear to be satisficers rather than optimizers in patterns of habitat occupation?
    7. ESS approaches needed to incorporate other birds and their strategies when looking at habitat occupation:  How does this affect the correlation between migrant density and inferred habitat quality?
    8. Are dramatic aggregations at stopping sites most attractive or a bunch of refugees birds? Are they really ecological traps?
    9. Do they select stop over habitat and do they remain at habitat if deemed unsuitable, i.e. do they move on? How do we define suitability?


GROUP 3 – I have no notes from Group 3!



  1. What environmental factors regulate migratory populations throughout the life cycle?
    1. What is the state of knowledge?

-         Links between stages in annual cycle are poorly understood.

-         Ability to track individuals is not possible for many species.

    1. What are the cutting edges?

-         Technologies to track individuals.

-         Sequencing more of the genome of different species.

    1. What data are needed?

-         Year-long data

-         Ability to measure threats.

-         Meshing physiology and ecology at the individual level.

-         Choosing a model species for each question.

  1. What is the role of the network?
    1. Different people in different places utilizing a variety of techniques.
    2. Greater standardization across regions.
    3. Search for funding sources to promote standardization.
    4. Encourage people to collect novel data.
    5. Help groups of researchers internationally to get a hold of bands/technologies.
    6. Develop international short courses.
  2. Define success of the network.
    1. Knowledge of where different researchers are working.
    2. Ability to track individuals at smaller spatiotemporal scales.
    3. Ability to network amongst researchers across a species’ range.
    4. Student exchanges between regions/countries.
    5. Develop graduate student short course in opposite years as Alerstam’s European course.
    6. Collaborative projects created among MIGRATE network members.
    7. Identification of model species for each different question, which would depend on the question being asked.
    8. Open lines of communication with public schools.
    9. Open lines of communication with conservation/management agencies.
    10. Come up with novel ways to fund research and education across international borders.
  3. Disadvantages of using a model species approach
    1. Lose collaborators through disinterest in that species.
    2. Bad model for other species groups.
    3. Better way to allocate resources than using a model approach.

Further questions:


E. Kirsch: What stage of the annual cycle is most affected by anthropogenic change?


R. Norris: What are the extrinsic vs. intrinsic factors affecting population size (similar to Stuart’s question)?


Group 5


  1. Population dynamics - would like info equivalent to the kind of info that is available for waterfowl – especially mark-recapture data to calculate lamba and model survivorship, and determine correlates (components?) of survivorship…so be as quantitative as possible. Focus on what are the missing attributes of those models – in the case of landbirds, everything is missing.
  2. Mortality and productivity, especially as to landbirds, migration monitoring stations can provide a great deal of info – there is no network of migration monitoring stations across the US-Mexico border yet. For instance, need ratio of adult to first-year  captures. Coupled with knowledge of where the birds are coming from would help to understand population regulation. Easier than marking entire populations ala Sillett and Holmes.

MAPS stations, coupled with migration monitoring data, we can test ideas about productivity between areas that are producing more birds and are we just capturing more of those?

  1. Compensatory v. additive mortality can also be studied with these approaches. Modelers will tell us what the limits are of using these data to develop these models.
  2. Plasticity – ability of individual to adapt to challenges such as climate change/anthropogenic change. Can also be considered at species and popn level. Examples exist of species that do different things in different parts of the range. Would help understand response of popns to anthropogenic change. Lab experiments and manipulations, such as displacement, can be proxies to see how individuals respond to challenges. Recent paper in Auk by Briskie – commentary on using invasive species as models for island species (in NZ) and how they recover, so you don’t have to use the declining, endangered species and how they come through bottlenecks. Cues for leaving wintering grounds and how it is affected by migration strategy (e.g., long vs. short distance), and how different individuals make those choices. Much of this work is being done in Europe – can they leave given the cue and where do they end up? Cues that change on breeding grounds may not be correlated with cues at the other end of the range. Arrival times, clutch initiation times can be used to infer info about conditions on the wintering grounds.


Group 6


A product of all questions could be - How do we conserve migrants?

  1. What question do we answer first with tracking?

            a. general questions

- Can we identify the demographic units of migratory animals?

- What is the state and location of an individual during its annual routine?

- What is the relative role of plasticity and constraints in migration?

- This can be addressed on different time and space resolutions.

- Pull together the different pieces of the puzzle at different scales in space and time (immediate – evolutionary)

b. specific questions

- Identify where and when they are vulnerable during the annual cycle

- How do we keep track of how are populations doing

- Where do we protect migrants

- How variable is their behavior

- How representative are the individuals of the population

- Population information – using other techniques

  1. Success for MIGRATE – increasing capacity

a. Educate ourselves – training – statistics, modeling and database

            b. Technological advances

            c. Database development (e.g., Avian knowledge network – Cornell)

d. Synthesis papers for example – added value of integrating different research approaches

  1. What can we do as a network that we cannot do as individuals?

a. Combining expertise to advance technology

            b. Answer certain questions

            c. Target taxa

            d. Database repositories

  1. Some Notes

a. Remote sensing is an important issue

b. Identify influence of land use changes


Wrap up (J. Kelly):  Everyone will get copy of these notes and the PIs will try to pull together commonalities.





J. Smith: Is there a downside to selecting model species? Is it a given that we would take that approach?


F. Moore: Presentation – conceptual and logistical issues




F. Moore: What are we trying to model?


C. Guglielmo:  What genes are turned on prior to migration to enable the physiological or behavioral changes that comprise migration – endocrinological changes of the nonmigrants or close relatives could be studied


D. Winkler: A discussion of genomics is fine but for migration, we should consider something like obligates v. facultative migrants and ecologically relevant issues. Fundamentally, it has to be a species that produces a lot of information.


S. Skagen: Supports model species approach and could develop examples of wealth of information that could help demonstrate to agencies that they need to consider other species for funding rather than just the declining species. By definition, those are not the ones that necessarily need to be studied. It is better to study the common species so we can understand the fundamental mechanisms – and focus on basic biology, not the interdisciplinary approach – the bigger the approach, the less you can do.


K. Hobson: Model species will work, especially where there is a network. Choose abundant species that are representative of different strategies (e.g., long vs. short distance), body size.  Avoid “indicator species” approach – keep those shortcomings in mind – they chose the wrong species as indicators e.g., Ovenbird as old growth species in Canadian forests when it turns out that their habitat requirements are very broad. If you don’t know a lot about the organism in advance, you can choose the wrong one. Depending on the question, you may be better off choosing a community of birds.


R. Norris: Collaborative effort needed. Altruism is needed and you might not get your choice of model species. Need to pick a species that everyone can take something from and should be determined by two broad questions – population dynamics and evolutionary aspects of migration. May need more than one, e.g., one songbird, one shorebird…to get adequate and applicable generalities.


S. Gauthreaux: We already have model species, e.g., Red Knot, where there has been a tremendous amount of work. If we looked for existing model species, we would find a number of them. We don’t want ALL research funding going to a small suite of species to the exclusion of research on questions that are not species-driven. So make list and see how much agreement there is.


F. Spina: Could be interesting to model systems rather than species – with wide array of species. Interspecific analysis and comparisons are really very important to understand general rules and strategies. For instance, compare migration across Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean. EURING had project this year with a swallow because it spans continents, easy to collect data at breeding sites and migration and wintering grounds, and also conservation-relevance.  Also it is a symbol of migration. Key is to determine what question and choose appropriate species. 


S. Haig: Could we have a model approach rather than a model species? The issues are more important than studying a few species. Any group of people could use model species if they wanted to but the focus should be on the questions.


A. Jahn: From austral perspective, there are many species that migrate in the opposite direction, so researchers in Southern Hemisphere need to be included.


J. Shamoun-Baranes: An advantage of model species, if you have enough information, is to develop a strong model and then test it. The Western Sandpiper project was chosen because of logistical ease e.g., studying wintering, breeding, migration stopover sites. But this is a 5-year effort (MIGRATE) and the question is whether those in the network want to work with model species, not what others want to do. Having a model species (or several) may help those in the network to make more progress.


S. Bearhop: Can’t shoehorn every question onto a given model species. There is value in defining migration systems of interest, e.g., limited, discrete stopovers vs. wide choice of stopover sites, or those that migrate over water vs. over land.


S. Mabey: She has reservations about using species models because of the extensive variation BUT some of the issues may be well-served by the model species approach – population dynamics may be studied through models whereas plasticity and other issues, not as much.


T. Smith: How will we identify species a priori and get people to work on them when everyone has their own interests? The question - is among what collaborators are working on, are there species everyone can agree on? The exception is genomics where having a single species is useful, e.g., species with migratory and nonmigratory populations – and this will lead to approaches for other species.


Migratory systems approach is valuable given international character of the group but the challenge is to choose the questions that will be enabled when we can track individual birds.


We can’t all get all the information to understand migration. This group can get at an understanding of only one small part of a question – others will work on other parts – so it may be necessary to choose a species for which there is already good information to maximize chances of getting the understanding you seek


F. Moore: This is part of the attribute of a good model species – that a certain amount of knowledge is already available that may be relevant to the conceptual issues of interest.


J. Kelly: In preparing the proposal they looked at the model species issue. He can see long-term benefit to picking a few species to emphasize. People are still free to work on whatever they want. Having a lot of information on a few species may give researchers leverage for their own research programs – perhaps to extend to comparisons with other species. It isn’t clear to reviewers why every proposal deals with a different species and doesn’t build on what has already been done.


Young investigators who are starting to shape their research programs may want to choose the model or focal species identified by a group like this RCN.


R. Diehl: Do we know enough to choose model species intelligently? We know a lot about some and a little about most. That they have received a lot of attention doesn’t mean that they are good models, even if we benefit from all that knowledge. But we don’t know enough to choose across a spectrum. If this group endorses a model or set of models, it will foster interest among new grad students and young faculty and provide strong leverage for funding for those species.


D. Winkler: When you start replicating research, you find that there are differences across the species’ range so it really helps to know limits of generalizations and to identify variability.


R. Norris: This doesn’t dictate that everyone work on the models and give up their own interests. This is in addition to what everyone else is doing. Without models, we can’t really understand movement, population dynamics, causes of migration if all working independently and without model species. Look at it as a group proposal. When someone works on one species, others tend to think “that’s their turf” and some avoid working on what others are working on. Advantage of coming together is in part to get past that turfiness issue and work collaboratively.            


Potential model species – discussion of attributes


Speaker?: These are just suggestions and were chosen because we know something about migration for these species and we might be able to get more knowledge about migration if we study these. The idea is to complete a matrix (see separate Xcel spreadsheet) for each of the suggested species, as to whether enough is known or not for each attribute.






Life history

Geographical distribution

Size/mass – ability to mark

Ability to track

Adequate population size


Hold in captivity?

Breed in captivity

Polytypic variation

ageing and sexing potential


differential migration among facultative species

facultative v. obligate

do we know the phylogeny

conservation concern/potential for funding

international aspects

north-south vs. other

over water via over land

flight strategy – soaring vs. active


Pattern and processes

Isotope work

Genetic markers

Population modeling


Stopover biology

Breeding biology

wintering biology



good for genomics

good for population dynamics

good for evolution questions



Where are there blanks in the matrix

Are these all the considerations we need to think about?


This matrix helps to determine if we know enough about a given species to consider it as a model – no point in choosing something we don’t know much about – all that are on list meet the standards but there are others that probably qualify


Added species: Black-throated Blue Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow, Osprey, Sandhill Crane


Realistically the model has to be limited to one species so some of these attributes may be more important than others – or the species that meets more of the criteria than others


Some species on the list are more appropriate for population dynamics and others for evolution of migration


S. Mabey: This is just a tool for identifying candidates and narrowing down the list of candidates. For comparative studies, life history strategies are important, so you might need two – one for comparison to the model species.


J. Smith: The most important attribute(s) may depend on the specific question you are asking.

Is it more important to have taxa that are species rich – if you want to look at microevolutionary questions?


Added: Peregrine Falcon and Osprey -  both found in Europe, too


Does tracking mean through space/time OR through observations at banding stations – and it has to be year-round tracking but tracking on wintering grounds is very difficult


Have to score, can’t use yes/no measures for each attribute


K. Hobson: Can just do +/- in each box in the green attributes boxes.


F. Moore: Some that will be both e.g., nocturnal and diurnal. Life history is hard to score and we might need subcategories – life span, first age of reproduction.


Speaker?: We can send this out to colleagues for additional feedback.


Speaker?: Would be very hard to send out, get people to respond, analyze answers – can just test it through subgroup comparisons w/ the participants here to be sure they know what the categories mean


K. Hobson: What other species are similar to those we do know about so we can do comparisons? That is also important. He’d rather do comparisons OR start using the info we have to start answering questions. More important question is what are the limits of techniques – e.g., stable isotopes are only good for latitudinal migrants. And also if someone else is doing a lot of work on a species, and is likely to continue doing so, why not start elsewhere? More interesting question is how similar other species are? Do we need to know more about Snow Geese or about other large-bodied waterfowl?


Speaker?: RCN is supposed to foster integrative and interactive research and having species that we know a lot about makes that easier. Comparative work is great but for interactive work, you have to stick with species that are easy for everyone to work with. We are charged with asking new questions and that means using a model system.


Speaker?: The RCN can launch studies on other species that are equally interesting as those that are well-studied.


Speaker?: Both approaches are needed. If you already have good carbon signature for Redstarts on the wintering grounds, find it out for other species BUT for integrative work, there needs to be model species so they can begin to ask new questions that aren’t possible to attack individually. Even for Redstarts, we have no ability to predict population changes, and have a long way to go to understand connectivity.


J. Kelly:  Were MIGRATE to endorse some model species for some purposes, would people feel that would negatively impact work on comparative species, e.g., others in the communities of the model species, or would people see it as a positive because they would have something to compare with?


Speaker?: To avoid choosing wrong species, build in checks to be sure that doesn’t occur – e.g., how broadly can this be applied to other birds? Is this species peculiar (is it a good standard for comparison) or is it representative of its group? Avoid notion that MIGRATE is going to say that research should focus on model species. Researchers will come up with ideas and figure out best way to do it. Only after we know what the questions are will we really know what the best models are. We need more comparative research just to determine what the best models are.


Speaker?: Can’t populate the matrix unless you know what the research question is.


Maybe model species should be one approach and use comparative approach for evolutionary questions.


The RCN isn’t trying to define an entire research program for everyone, but just identify a suite of potential projects that people might want to tackle.


Genomics is a tool, not a question. The question is do we have molecular markers. What does “perfect species for genomics” mean? We can sequence any species. The issue is why you need to know the genomic





S. Mabey: The RCN proposal distinguished between intrinsic and extrinsic markers. The process for this session is to have breakout groups discuss classes of technologies such as: (isotopes, genetic markers, parasites).


Charge to breakout groups

  1. State of technology: Has a given form of technology been successfully deployed, is it in development, are there alternatives, new developments, limitations (e.g., as to species), what kinds of info the tech can generate, what questions are best answered with a given tech
  2.  Improvements needed: what needs to happen to improve precision, miniaturize
  3. What can MIGRATE do to help improve deployment of technology
  4. How to facilitate tech transfer to other fields such as ecology, conservation


Within that framework, it might be best to mix people with different knowledge sets and have them brainstorm. Or get the basic info for each tech and then report, then do integrative discussion this afternoon. Also important to link to species groups.


Technology classes to be discussed:

a.       Intrinsic – isotopes & trace elements, genetic markers (of birds and of parasites and viruses) versus extrinsic – electronic = telemetry (radio and satellite), cell phone, acoustics, wireless sensor networks and radar, geolocators; physical = bands and other external markers, morphological characteristics, behavior.Split:

b.      individual (e.g., acoustics, radar) vs. group (e.g., telemetry, cell phone, wireless sensor networks)


Reports from breakout groups


Isotope group


1.                  State of technology

a. Hydrogen  (H) and oxygen (O2) isotopes

- Limitations of maps

- Small scale heterogeneity,

- Integrate a temporal component/climate event El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)

- Physiology of H & O2 isotopes integrated into map models, parameterize maps by species.

- Amino acid synthesis (in humans) - assimilation rapid, equilibrates more rapidly with body water. Combining H & O2 could help separate physiology signal from environmental.

- Herbivores - leaves uptake ambient signal most rapidly

- Effect of temperature

- Need dual isotope studies (H & O2)

- Mike’s approach of turning base maps into probability of origin.

- Sampling for connectivity, within site variation = among site variation low connectivity and vice versa. Saturated sampling, 30-40 birds per site (min). One breeding site and one wintering site, huge effort….. Probability based approaches require much less effort.

- Lack of reference materials…interlab standards

- Appropriateness of the study organism, shallow rooted plants…subject to more variability.

- Compare metabolically active tissues with inactive

- Resource use at a small scale…

- Appropriateness of question

- How accurate can we be?

- Individual physiology, error associated with maps, regional variability

 b.   Carbon, Nitrogen , Sulphur, Strontium

       - Marine v terrestrial, C4 (Carbon 4) v C3 (Carbon 3)…………provenance

       - Latitude…

       -  Xeric v mesic consequences of habitat selection

       - Capital versus income in fuelling of migration/reproduction

       - Study structure in marine environment

                   - Study trace elements, multivariate space, problems of very local heterogeneity

       - Shorebirds, estuarine inflow (Strontium, Sulphur, Hydrogen), how predictable are


     - Trace elements preliminary investigations necessary. How stable are these, which

        metals should be avoided. Geologists should be consulted.

     - Compound-specific approaches - Individual amino Acids - compare essential vs.

       non-essential, can unravel spatial and trophic effects. Migrations of Tuna.

    - Tracers, and CC could help answer physiological questions about H & O2 raised


          - Molt -  Stable Isotope Analysis as a way inferring molt, consequences of molt

 variation. Requires good information on molt phenology in order to be able to make       inferences


2.                  MIGRATE could…

- As a group -  carry out a series of experiments to help facilitate the construction of a physiology based map.

- Training courses? Web pages based on Gabe/Mike’s stuff?

- Possible paper and web advice “How to properly use Stable Isotope Analysis to       infer migratory origins”

- Tech transfer -  Combining PTT, GPS information with molt and Stable Isotope Analysis of feather tissue to validate base maps.

- Banding plus Stable Isotope Analysis…… bands recovery biases/effort, lumping groups, problems with making inferences.




Genetic markers breakout group


  1. State of technology

a.       different markers appropriate for different questions and species

b.      species with isolated breeding populations are best candidates for genetics techniques

c.       potential for differentiating populations at finer scales…two populations at a contact zone may have similar isotopic signature but may be genetically polymorphic

d.      provides information on geographic variation as well as evolutionary processes….ultimately the genetic basis of migration (potentially, the genes associated with migration)


  1. MIGRATE could:

a.       sample collection across geographic regions (breeding and wintering ranges, on migratory routes) and sharing

b.      resources for disseminating information from repositories

c.       facilitate collaboration among labs utilizing different techniques to combine different markers

d.      Available markers (see spreadsheet):

- mt DNA

- AFLP’s (amplified length polymorphisms)

- SNIP’s (single nucleotide polymorphisms)

- Microsatellites


Banding group


  1. State of technology

a.       Standardization – of what to collect, how to record and report – significant problem particularly in the Neotropics; issue was addressed in US in 1993 but hasn’t been revisited since, isn’t complete, and there is real need to converse w/ Europeans, who also work in Neotropics and do things a different way – causes problems w/ training, standards being used on same birds – could be addressed by working with people in Neotropics, provide training or support others that do (eg Park Flight, NABC)

b.      Lack of access to bands, coordinated numbers and prefixes

c.       Reporting resightings, recaptures, recoveries – need to make it easy, e.g., web address on every band

d.      Increase recapture/recovery rate – increase density of banders at strategically located stations that are geographically significant sites for migration – e.g., along southern US border where there is significant stopover

e.       How existing data can be used in new ways, e.g., first/only capture data across a network of sites can be used to identify migratory routes for species – differential rates of first encounters across species (Ibis 1997)

f.        Communications – of protocols, methodologies, trainings – sponsoring workshops or participating in existing workshops to bring to these groups the needs for certain kinds of data for migration studies, such as ageing

g.       Canadian Atlas based on band recoveries – CWS 2001 – no effort like that has been undertaken in the U.S.



J. Kelly: In terms of locating sites – what is value of stratified random sites v. capture rate – are inferences limited if site selection isn’t random?


K. Larson: In some places, you only have a certain number of suitable locations from which to choose


J. Kelly: If you chose sites based on how many birds are there, you can be missing suites of birds, e.g., those that use different habitat


K. Larson: If you can’t get people to sit in those bird-poor areas, or their capture rate is very low, is there really a value to even trying there


C. Guglielmo: If you move around from one site to another, you will eventually build up enough captures in each place.


F. Spina: Realize that you are dealing mostly with volunteers who may not be willing to go certain places or go anywhere – but they have developed ways to deal with the bias to some extent.


F. Moore: At the scale we are dealing with, it would be hard to sample across all habitats/landscapes.


K. Larson – also might not be able to use mist nets in some sites – that also complicates things


K. Hobson -  you could try to run a specific set of sites for 5 years and try to generate

the specific information you want


A. Celis: In Mexico, they have no volunteers – it is just the researchers themselves and their students – makes coordination very hard – it is small groups of researchers asking different questions and their methods are designed specifically for the specific question


Electronics group


Generally: State of technology

Lots of people working on gadgets – including cell phone-based systems – changing very rapidly and will look very different in 5 years.


Technology: Wireless sensor networks

Transceivers with ranges of about 10 m are now 1.5 g.

Watch for developments.

Software for networking needs improvement

Energy source/battery developments are needed.

Potentially great for behavioral ecology in localized areas.

S. Mabey is our MIGRATE agent for this technology.

MIGRATE could transfer this technology to many other field biologists.

Technology: RFID-PIT tags

Already deployed in lots of systems where animals reliably come within a meter or two

of a reader.

Need smaller less expensive readers.

Need extension of range of detection.

Great for lots of local behavioral ecological work but likely most important only for those

species that come very close to a reader. (Northstar was developing a cross-band

transponder whose transmission was elicited by radar. S. Skagen tested one and

will check into it for MIGRATE. Needs big radar and two 90 degree antennae on

the transponder.)

Technology: Digital tags


Real-time locality information at different scales:

Short distances: (less than 10 km) Available now in places like BCI.

Will be more widely available very soon for conventional tags (<.2 g).

Long distances - may be available soon via satellite monitoring of digital

 tags (ICARUS).

GPS 10 g available but need to get data.

Argos 9 g tag available, need to keep paying.

Telemetry data


Solar geolocation


                        Cell communication



                                    Wing-beat frequency?




                                    Motion detector

                                    Blood chemistry?



Note: When mass is a problem, can jettison radio and have a logger at saving in mass of about 25%....


Technology: Analog tags

Still very important

                                    Wing-beat frequency



Key problem is finding someone to develop given small quantity demand


Technology: Radar

Existing Technologies - successfully deployed

Integrated networks of weather radar

            NEXRAD (North America) – 230km large scale radar

            European OPERA network (wind profilers – 5km)

Large scale surveillance

                        Military medium powered radar (Europe)

                        Canada weather radar

Mobile radar

                        Marine radar

                        Tracking radar (not readily available)

                        NASA – Spandar

Harmonic radar – needs exploration (applied to insects) – not too successful until now

Thermal imaging – validation technology

Technology: Phased Array LIDAR

                                    Emerging technology

Information provided

                                                geographical patterns (time and space)

vertical distribution

                                                relative densities

                                                species groups (wing beat frequency)





                                                Raptor migration

                                                Soaring migration

                                                Active nocturnal migration (land)



Cost (equipment, personell – expertise)

Target identity

Relative numbers

Line of sight

Threshold – noise

Comparability of different units

Need standardization

Uncertainty – pixel/echo interpretation


in the air

on the ground

Location – where can it be stationed

Coverage (e.g. no coverage in central and south America)

Improve Precision

Definition of standards and protocols

Target validation

Target identification


Smaller more mobile units

Clutter filtering

Cross - calibration

Access to raw data (before processing)

Integration of radar technologies


2. MIGRATE could…

a. Propose network of radar at NEON installations

b. Promote standardization

c. Provide training

d. Coordination of workshop – cross-calibration?

e. Definition of standards and protocols

f. Special issue on radar research

3. Biological Applications & tech transfer to other fields

            a. Behaviour around barriers

            b. Identification of important stopover areas

            c. Influence of weather on migration

            d. Dispersal of colonial species

            e. Identification of roost sites

            f. Response to anthropogenic structures

            g. Flight safety improvements

            h. Migratory patterns (corridors)

            i. Foraging studies

            j. Improvement of accuracy of meteorological measurements


Technology: Acoustics

Information provided

                        Species that vocalize

                        Throughout life cycle

                        Localization w/triangulation (breeding and wintering)


                        Relatively inexpensive

                        Creating networks


                        Human interpretation (lack of automation)

                        Range (0.5 km)

                        Validated on diurnal call notes (uncertainty)

                        Lack of knowledge (on calling behaviour – geographical, meteorology)

                        Uncertainty of relation between acoustic survey and trapped birds

Improve Precision – Further development

                        Taxonomic identification

                        Improve knowledge of calling behaviour

                        Include microphone on transmitters

                        Algorithm development for call identification


2. MIGRATE could….

            Facilitate development of monitoring networks

            Education and outreach, citizen science

            Mobile environmental units

            Improve communication of the acoustic community

            Standardization of information management

3. Biological Applications & transfer to other fields

            Species composition of migration

            Geographic variation of species composition

            Monitoring breeding and wintering populations (similar systems)


Overall, MIGRATE could…

Improve development

Improve deployment

Database of different expertise – contact information

Dynamic website where people can register in a particular interest groups & activities

Development of interest groups

Discussion of information management systems




K. Hobson: For acoustic monitoring, there is an issue of detectability and how to correct  for the purpose of monitoring


S. Gauthreaux: There are lots of developments with marine radar, in terms of digital processing of raw data. In a short time, we should be able to track multiple birds up to six nautical miles – won’t know identity but each track will help determine speed, heading – they are in the process of validating the methods.


K. Hobson: Is there coordination of weather radar with Canadians so we can do continental radar monitoring


S. Gauthreaux: The Canadian systems probably pick up birds but their settings are very different and it is problematic to determine what is bird.


R. Diehl: What is available to the public may not be useful but the actual data are and could be used.


S. Gauthreaux: John Black is looking into this but he hasn’t had an update – the issue is not unique to Canada. The FAA has the same situation – FAA radar can pick up birds but flight controllers don’t want to see birds so the FAA cancels bird information close to the receiver and efforts to restore the data have not been successful. In the next build of FAA radar, they want processing to be downstream so these data aren’t lost – it will allow monitoring of birds over every airport that has a system.


C. Guglielmo: Acoustical bat detectors – people are working on using ecolocation to id species


S. Gauthreaux: The different groups are cross-validating with regard to linkages of data sets, e.g., banding data and radar data.


T. Smith: Analytical challenges to tracking individuals and populations in space and time (brainstorming session)




Combine data from intrinsic and extrinsic markers


Using bioclimactic and remote sensing data to examine and predict current and future distributions under land use and climate change


J. Smith: Would add mechanistic models for predicting distribution and migration patterns – complements remote sensing models – may use same data strings but it is a different way of looking at it.


T. Smith:  Integrate demographic data and connectivity data – are we at a point where we can start thinking about that? There have been a couple of important papers – is it an important area for MIGRATE.


D. Winkler: Very important to think about demography and movement; it is part of the question about how are birds doing (including mortality) at points in the annual cycle and in places. Martin Wikelski is proposing something called MoveBank – building a national database of movement data to include tools to correlate environmental data.


K. Hobson: Tibor Sczep and others in Europe are trying to tie return rates in Europe to conditions in Africa.


T. Smith: Moller trying to correlate return rates w/ greenness indices – so database should integrate NVDI and movement data.


R. Norris: Not finding a correlation doesn’t mean that those individuals didn’t come from those breeding grounds. Even if you know where your breeding birds are wintering, it is over a very large area. The connectivity data aren’t good enough to know which region the birds came from – so lack of correlation doesn’t have meaning.


T. Smith: So can you validate distribution models by correlating environmental data to generate predictive map and then going to ground truth that map.


K. Hobson: All the correlation does is narrow down the potential wintering site – you have to use other info and other techniques to pinpoint it.


R. Norris: Isotope analysis and other data show mixing. The premise of clear connectivity may be faulty – and the levels of mixing vary. He and Caz have been looking at different models of connectivity.


T. Smith: Can the bioclimactic or remote sensing variable predict that there should be mixing based on the habitat?


You need very large datasets to validate the models – observational datasets tend to be very large, such as banding datasets – connectivity datasets may not be large enough


Difference between conceptual modeling and predictive modeling and they are rarely compared – should be used together – will never have enough data for the conceptual models – conceptual models require significant parameters and these models may benefit from a hybrid approach with predictive statistical models and vice versa.


K. Hobson: Stable Isotope Analysis and connectivity will only work with only one isotope in exceptionally rare cases. It would have to be a species with a very narrow latitudinal distribution. A deuterium map is available, plant physiologists can come up with C and ? maps and when you overlay the three isotopes, the solution space for a given species is very much reduced.


T. Smith: Overlaying genetics and isotopes is not straight-forward.


K. Hobson: He would recommend turning both into probability estimates.


T. Smith: Theoretician Tom ? said genetic data is 0-1 whereas isotopic is more continuous but as far as he knows it hasn’t been tried yet.


R. Norris: Do we need new analytical techniques or do existing techniques suffice? Or is it just that they are new to us?


M. Wunder:  There is a difference in saying that you want to increase precision of the distribution assignment vs. capturing the processes that generate error in the assignment. Rather than trying to increase sample size to increase precision, try to reduce the sources of error. Right now we can assign probabilities to distribution assignments. We need much more mechanistic assessment before we can use off-the-shelf models.


J. Kelly: How would a network of people resolve some of these issues?


S. Haig: A website for people to post analytical tools and how they’ve worked, e.g., combining isotopes and genetics.


T. Smith: Perhaps at next meeting we should bring in engineers to talk about new technologies- maybe we should also bring population geneticists and statisticians


There are huge gaps in sampling in the breeding regions – hard to know what to do in those cases – can you interpolate across a region?  Interpolating genetic data is very difficult, there are no point data, but differences between points. There are some genetic maps of allele distribution, but hard to superimpose on map of morphological character states. Maybe model species would be useful here to address the sampling needs?


T. Kunz: There are computer engineers who have developed algorithms for combining databases on different spatial and temporal scales – would be useful to have someone like this at next meeting – help determine what data are needed to fill in these gaps – perhaps there is a model species for which we already have good data with few gaps





J. Kelly: Returning to four basic questions: what are primary analytical challenges?


S. Mabey –  data integration is one of main challenges, data standards or conversion standards may be needed and there may be other aspects to this problem.


R. Norris: Biggest challenge is sampling. If we could get the data, the tools are already there.  We could have better isotope base maps, better genetic maps – and once we do, the integration can be done and there are already people who can do it and can help make it happen.


T. Smith: They’ve been collecting feather and genetic samples at UCLA – can they network with others who are doing that and share data?


R. Norris: Tom’s group wrote paper calling for feather sampling – what was response? <Smith, T.,  P. Marra, M. Webster, I.  Lovette, H. L. Gibbs, R.Holmes, K. Hobson, and  S. Rohwer. 2003. A call for feather sampling. Auk 120:218-221>.


T. Smith: Museum people didn’t like idea that they weren’t collecting whole specimens.


S. Bearhop: Variation in study methodology is also a problem


T. Smith: AFLP data are lab-specific but gene sequences can go into GenBank


D. Winkler: Need to discuss data needs and standardization but there is already much available that we are not using such as satellite imagery, remote sensing, micrometeorological info, data tracks of locations of animals. We need data mining people or whoever the kind of people are who know how to do this


T. Smith: Craig Venter and Larry Smarr – a computer scientist -  grappled with this problem with genetic data. They are interested in what is going on at UCLA and how they can expand their database to include data on species other than plankton  and they have $30 million from the Moore Foundation.


D. Winkler: Cornell has a data mining group too. We need to figure out what kind of people we need to bring in.


R. Diehl: It is informatics and there are people with expertise in that area.


K. Larson: Millions of birds have been banded but many groups have virtually no capacity to analyze. There are few papers published with rigorous statistical analysis. MIGRATE could bring these tools to the bird observatories. Also, we need to talk to the people who band birds about feather protocols and need to take feather samples.


T. Smith: So maybe his group should develop a protocol?


K. Larson: That would increase the sampling effort


F. Spina: They had workshop before start of banding season – for ornithologists, statisticians – to decide how to optimize data taken in banding operations. To discuss why are we taking one measurement or another, and what information can be derived from these measurements. This resulted in a manual of protocols which has helped to standardize data collection in Europe.


T. Smith: But many banding stations have been taking data for decades and never gets uploaded into a database that others can use.


C. Guglielmo: Are there data ownership issues? Some places feel like they will analyze it someday – they plan to hire quantitative biologist who can go through them.


K. Larson: But if there is a funded proposal to data mine, they may be willing to contribute.


T. Smith: Ownership issues are serious and need to be considered.


F. Spina: They have a large repository EURING database and researchers can apply to use it.  They have ways to be sure that the data are not misused.


We need to work towards a success story – find a scenario where the information is integrated and show how it can work.


J. Kelly: If we are willing to contribute to a sampling effort for a question that all want to answer, it could lead to a success story. But if the existing tools are not adequate, then you can’t answer the question – work out the challenges on one species or one system


K. Hobson: Banding data is from birds in transit so you don’t need a large number of variables for each point where the bird is captured. We should come up with the set of variables that are actually needed to answer a certain question – for instance, weather data.


S. Skagen: When you have important known sites, that would not be chosen randomly, but there are other places in the landscape that you don’t usually sample, you can use dual-frame sampling to combine data from nonrandom and random sites – allows you to address biases emanating from site selection.


M. Wunder: the challenges depend on whether you are trying to describe or predict – to describe patterns then we just need someone who knows how to do this, but predictability is a different issue and without a mechanistic understanding prediction can’t be done no matter how much data or tools.


T. Smith: Does MIGRATE need to be engaged in predictive analysis?


S. Gauthreaux: We need to also be able to predict short term trends such as migration because these are extremely valuable for use in conservation/management applications. You need to know patterns before you can do predictions.


C. Taylor: A mechanistic model can describe a pattern – model the process you think is going on and use the data to validate that model.  Different data sources can be combined in a mechanistic model and expertise within the network can be used to test the model – these models could be improved if people with different expertise were to work together.


R. Norris: If it can work for a couple of species then there is groundwork for applying to others – sets the standard for how to do it.


C. Guglielmo: Do the banding datasets already have sufficient data? Combine with archived weather info, radar info, etc. You can get things like number of birds over landscape over period of time. If you ask for data for only a couple of species, data owners may be willing to share it. If you then get the genetic and isotopic data for those same species, you can try to add those.


J. Smith: There are weather data for at least 20 years, plus climatic models, weather models that are retrospective, not predictive. If MIGRATE is intended to be an enable of this kind of work, then the discussion among people with different capabilities is already starting people thinking about how this can be done.


J. Kelly: Return to the “big questions” in bird migration to consider how MIGRATE collaborations might apply different kindsd of existing data to these question:


1 - Population dynamics (ecological, conservation perspectives)

2- Individual fitness

3- Evolution of behavior in migration – plasticity v. constraints (evolutionary history) and how they respond over ecological timeframes to changes

4- Interaction w/ environment (habitat, landscape, atmospheric)


K. Hobson: There are good datasets for certain species e.g.,  for Yellow Warbler – genetic and isotopic – better to start there than to go out and collect new data.


D. Winkler: It would be good to have someone take existing data and relate those to meteorological data and other data and see what problems arise and how to resolve them. MIGRATE can be sure to disseminate info about these analytical techniques that everyone can access


J. Kelly: MIGRATE can be resource that has a set of case studies – not an all inclusive bioinformatics teaching tool.


D. Winkler: Plus software that anyone writes.


T. Smith: So we need to think carefully about a web-based tool that MIGRATE can build that facilitates these cross-dataset analyses.


J. Kelly: Or list analytical needs and anyone who wants to work on it can do so – perhaps through list of published papers that already have analysis of one kind of data and then someone else can try to add a second layer of data to it.


J. Kelly: Think of analytical challenges for your own research program and e-mail to migrate@ou.edu.








  • Education
  • Citizen science/public outreach
  • Training
  • Data standards
  • Steering




J. Smith: We need an international committee because birds cross international borders, and because we are an international group – this will keep us from being North-American centric.


J. Kelly: Or make each of the committees international in composition.


F. Spina: Have each committee tasked with how their work can reach across borders.


K. Thorup: What is NSF’s view on international activity? Could a meeting be held outside the U.S.?


J. Kelly: They can pay to have a conference in Europe but can’t pay stipends to people who are not U.S. citizens


S. Mabey: This is a limitation for student training and exchange visits – they can cover per diems but not stipends.


J. Smith: It would be ideal to have joint funding from an entity in Europe.


D. Winkler: He’s on another RCN and there is a partner grant from the European Science Foundation – so maybe Casper and Fernando and others could look for funding in Europe – the NSF is “leverage” for persuading other funding agencies to kick in.


S. Mabey: To leverage migrate funding, perhaps a separate committee or working group is needed.


All: Let the steering committee take care of it.


D. Winkler: Would lab visits and training courses all come under the education committee?


S. Mabey: The education committee is undergrad and grad courses or units and training is lab visits/exchanges, which would also include postdocs.


D. Robinson: Might also have a finance committee composed of the co-PIs to keep track of how much is being requested and granted.


J. Kelly: The steering committee can decide what will be funded.


K. Hobson: So where does research coordination fit among these committees?


J. Kelly: These would be self-directed groups of people who want to work together and they just need to let MIGRATE know what they are doing and MIGRATE will promote what they are doing – there won’t be any MIGRATE input/rules as to what those proposals will look like or should be about.


S. Mabey: As an example, the training committee might set up a short course at a field site for capturing and handling birds and a session in a lab to learn biochem techniques, mapping, etc – and the whole thing would be called the MIGRATE training course – the question is who comes to the course, who sets the criteria for eligibility and who among those who are eligible will be selected if there are more eligible applicants than can be funded? Process – what applications need to ask, who reviews them, what are the selection criteria – would be up to the committee. Another task is to increase connections, not just keep the projects for a limited number of people so how to find, choose those connections or figure out what connections are needed – same is true for citizen science. We also need to decide which products will be covered in a given year, e.g., travel for a working group, page charges for a review paper – there has to be a structure for making those decisions.


K. Hobson: Should we ID those groups now?


J. Kelly: maybe steering committee could handle this.


J. Smith: The steering committee should have a broad view. We might need executive committee to help make decisions more rapidly.


D. Winkler: Start with the fewest number of committees possible and if you need more, create them later.


J. Kelly: It would be helpful to list existing collaborations.


J. Smith: And that kind of thing should be sent to NSF program manager


D. Winkler: He’s working on a manuscript on remote sensing with S. Gauthreaux, R. Diehl, F. Spina, M. Wunder.


S. Gauthreaux: Collect the list of collaborations by e-mail.


D. Winkler: Just copy steering committee whenever a collaboration is born


S. Mabey: Use MIGRATE@ou.edu – that doesn’t go to a listserv – it is just monitored by J. Kelly and S. Mabey.


Speaker?: We need a research coordination committee. Don’t stovepipe – try to be sure that groups are interdisciplinary and cross-pollinate. The steering committee needs to keep an eye on this.


I. Bisson: Determine what labs are in this group and what they can offer.


Speaker?: Duration of committee membership – two years may be optimal, staggered so that the first year, half are appointed for only one year


C. Taylor: Will there be other annual meetings?


S. Mabey: Yes, 5 annual meetings are covered by the proposal and the will be organized by the steering committee.


Committee breakouts


Steering committee will meet later

Five people for each committee, and one person from each will sit on steering committee


Data standards (to be named Standards and Protocols)




We need to be able to work across datasets and data types. How to collect and record data so that MIGRATE datasets can be used together; examples include banding data standards, specimen collection standards. Can also include protocols.


J. Sharmoun-Baranes: The first question is how much MIGRATE wants to push for standards and how willing people are to accept MIGRATE standards.


C. Taylor: The committee should not make the standards but find out how to make standards, how to get others involved who can make them.



- Better name – standards and protocols

- Banders, genetics, isotopes, and radar people are in group

- Not fully representative of all kinds of tracking

- There are already lots of small projects

- This committee should be oriented towards the larger collaborative efforts

- Info that the committee generates – whether pointing to a methods paper, or other – should start out on the MIGRATE website by pointing out what already exists and by identifying gaps

- Crucial step is development of metadata standards

- Organize a North American-wide calibration meeting similar to that held by EURING – very experienced ringers from all over Europe worked together in the field and compared their protocols for collecting and recording data and determined which were the best methods; this could be a MIGRATE initiative or collaborative with North American Banding Council

- British NGO Porzana.co.uk manufactures bands and use of single source such as this would resolve problem of coordinating numbers on unique markers – MIGRATE could recommend to USBBL that we purchase our bands from Porzana and provide free south of the border.

- Data storage and management – how to accommodate the data that are generated, using networks such as Avian Knowledge Network, which can take the kinds of data that are generated in migration studies or should be able to do so soon.

- The info can sit on a MIGRATE website and later moved to the website of another organization.



D. Robinson* chair

K. Larson

C. Belser

S. Gauthreaux

J. Buler

K. Hobson

D. Irwin

J. Shamoun-Baranes

T. Smith

F. Spina


G. Bowen




S. Skagen: Should standards include repository for habitat data?

K. Larson: This has been discussed by Cornell’s Avian Knowledge Network (AKN) but this isn’t the priority – they are looking at sightings/point data.

D. Winkler: He doesn’t know the details; MIGRATE could make recommendations to AKN about what the dataset should look like – they probably aren’t ready to jump into it right now.

J. Smith: The value of geolocation data could be augmented if you could add physical attributes from surface and data from NASA, Canadian Radarsat, ESA, etc.


Education Committee

J. Kelly

Tony Celis

J. Deppe

S. Haig

K. Paxton

D. Winkler

J. Smith

T. Kunz

S. Mabey

R. Norris

S. Haig and R. Norris volunteered to serve on Steering Committee


- AOU has been interested in setting up courses in Latin America – perhaps jointly sponsored

- Also coordinate with meetings in Latin America bcs there is often funding available for students to attend those meetings.

- Some universities will help fund students.

- Get USFWS $$ to develop courses taught at NCTC.

- WildLife without Borders (Herb Raphael’s grant program at USFWS) emphasizes training.

- Smithsonian Conservation and Research Center:  SI $$ for course development?

- National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada – Canadian sister course

- Home institution support for the students?

- Ducks Unlimited.

- Regular workshop at a particular society meeting every year

- Web hosting of course material

- Distance ed course for credit?

- Having sponsored symposia or tag ons for student participation

- Share course with Sister Shorebird folks to get this material out to high school and grade school (curriculum development for teachers; courses for teachers)


First job: outline the course over the next couple of months (see below)

Second job: contact Thomas Alerstam re: migration course at Lund University

< http://orn-lab.ekol.lu.se/birdmigration/index.php?cat=eomp> – can we sponsor students to attend that course; is he interested in expanding it; how might we help increase chances that it would be offered more often

Third job: look for extra $$ to make the program go farther

Fourth job: Plan course for Spring 2008 or Fall 2008 associated with AOU in Oregon


Potential course outline -

- Build in multilingual capacity from the beginning

- Molecular Genetics and Tracking – introduce students to the different techniques so that they become conversant and have some vision of what is possible – S. Haig

- Isotopes and Tracking – J. Kelly

- Field Techniques in Migration – J. Deppe & S. Mabey

- Physiology – C. Guglielmo

- Conservation - S. Mabey

- Demographic modeling -- R. Norris

- Tags – D. Winkler

- Bioacoustics – J. Deppe and A. Celis


Potential sites - Course needs to be mobile

Ventotene, Italy

Western Ontario


Punta Arasa, Argentina

Texel, Netherlands

Ottenby, Sweden


Johnson’s Bayou

Appledore Island (Shoals Marine Lab)

Port Aransas




Possibly integrate bird conservation organizations


To recruit students – where to advertise to get right audiences, target diversity

Recruit from south of US border

Recruit from large cities

Recruit from Puerto Rico

Recruit from Oklahoma State


Evaluating Applications

Application questions

Personal statement

Letters of recommendation

First year cohort – nominated students from MIGRATE participants



E.Paul: NSF Pan American Advanced Studies Institute would be good source of funding

C. Taylor: Could tie into shorebird festivals (Godwit Days)


Training committee


1 year members:

C. Taylor

M. Bowen

A. Mata

2 year members:

K. Thorup

S. Skagen
F. Moore


Goal: Organize workshops, lab exchanges, small group training for professionals in migration research by:

1.      Putting out calls for proposals.

2.      Prioritize/evaluate proposals.

3.      Manage budget for such activities

Training possibilities:

  1. One-on-one lab visits
  2. Small group training (e.g., remote sensing/simulation modeling short course in Amsterdam).
  3. Organize a roundtable/symposium (e.g., at IOC or NAOC).
  4. Collaborations (e.g., writing paper together).


  1. Fund training for professionals, including established scientists who may otherwise not have a training opportunity in a specific topic.
  2. Fund: travel, per diem, supplies.


  1. Agreement between those doing the training and those proposing the training need to be set up prior to proposal submission.
  2. Proposal is submitted to the committee.
    1. Proposals need to demonstrate how the training will benefit not only the trainee (e.g., make connections, gain knowledge), but will also further the goals of MIGRATE.
    2. Proposals include budget.
    3. Letter of endorsement submitted to the committee by the trainer.
  3. Committee reviews proposals, ranks them and accepts/rejects.
  4. Submit short report (showing what was learned, what new contacts were made) to committee at conclusion of training.
  5. Representative from Training Committee to coordinate with Education Committee to make sure that people are not being double-funded between committees.




Whatever is planned has to go to Steering Committee first, so Steering Committee can allocate the funds.


J. Kelly: Committees have authority to decide priorities and choose proposals, the only constraint from the Steering Committee is the budget.


J. Smith: Should set the budget first before committee does all the work.


D. Winkler: Does “professional” include grad students? Answer – yes.


Citizen science and outreach



E. Kirsch

I. Bissons

J. Parrite

S. Bearhop

R. Diehl



Citizen science ideas considered include:

- Arrays of acoustic monitoring stations associated with schools/organisations

- webcam type microphones, what birds flew over last night

- Data standards…… how is it collected?

- Do scientists want this kind of information?


MIGRATE could…


 - Raise awareness

- Promotion

- facilitate it through the group (people from all over)

- Create data standards/protocols for citizen science project.


Possible citizen science projects include…


Distributed computing: e.g. SETI

- Targeted ID of birds from radar, meteorologists (their noise is our signal).

- Less certain, in the future, lots of collected acoustic data, algorithms in development

- Data washing/mining

- Large computational problems may lend themselves to this kind of approaches


Migration watch (UK)

- Web site…. Arrival dates, species date location, webform and automated responses (engenders stake holding)

Co-ordinating with feederwatch

- Satellite tracking projects, maps

(D. Winkler – could be worked thru E-bird where birders submit their lists)

- Cornell be the hub (is it in planning). Responses….maps etc

- Sponsoring animals etc.

- Scientific work on migration alongside citizen participation.

(D. Winkler- Wikelski has idea of MoveBank to accept these data; other models from monarch butterflies)


Banding networks

 - MAPS model, talk to the Canadians. What resources are required to initiate these? Can MIGRATE support this?

- Training committee. State agencies co-ordinate these? Parks and refuges (in the first instance).

- Organisation for Tropical Research… local participation????




Who will do website, what should be on it?


J. Kelly, S. Mabey: There is some money in the proposal for a website.


D. Winkler: It gets expensive fast.


J. Smith – could use websites of other organizations.


Possible outreach projects include…



- Bird radar maps on the weather channel/national and local, during periods of calm/inactive weather…..tends to be good conditions for migrants. Some success in this area already

Reaches non-interest groups!!


S. Gauthreaux – Weather Channel wants them to bring sponsors for this activity. He’s also talked to the broadcast bureaus, who are more interested in the audience share and are afraid that they will lose audience if they air this kind of thing.


Linking schools/communities across flyways

- Pick a sentinel migrant(s), and identifying schools/communities across the entire flyway. Basis for cultural exchanges, school projects

- How can MIGRATE help? Researchers working in different parts of flyway, most of us have some links. Promotion, raising awareness LOGO. Outreach infrastructure? NGOs


Birds in the hand

- banding stations (Training)

- Mexico (participation via schools… volunteers)

- Fieldwork in winter/summer

- Birding festivals.

- How can MIGRATE help? As above – raise awareness, promote, facilitate


Public Talks

- To raise profile of migratory birds and MIGRATE

- NSF GK-12 MIGRATE to advocate funding of graduate students for training of science teachers


Popular Articles

- Migration naturally lends itself to this kind of thing, pictures, maps (no explanation required)




S. Skagen – should there be a list of the talks everyone gives


K. Larson – so there could be canned talks/ppts that grad students and others could use


J. Kelly – there is $$ for citizen science but it is limited and the committee should choose a project that is MIGRATE-branded; other collaborations are fine but there should be a specific MIGRATE vehicle


R. Diehl – they haven’t selected any one of these ideas


K. Larson – some of these ideas can be combined


R. Diehl – at least have a repository of slides that people can draw from


T. Smith – Fogarty Center (NIEHS) gave them $$ to do banding workshop in Mexico, on premise that it was useful to get genetic data for connectivity studies

S. Gauthreaux – a lot of the ideas coming out today can be tied together under the original goals that were discussed on the first day – such as working through a series of bird observatories to get better data, do education, and outreach


D. Winkler – would like to see if there are people interested in collaborating around Barn Swallow since they are pan –North America and very visible in Mexico and South America too


A. Jahn – looking for funding for austral migration and one of the ideas that would like to do is get computers to Latin America – set up something similar to Birder’s Exchange – take equipment to schools, etc and they can be set up to access MIGRATE websites


D. Winkler – Asia has $100 internet node project – wifi/internet nodes, being set up by INTEL – could be really useful in South America



Please e-mail to migrate@ou.edu lists of outcomes, products, and new collaborations developed while here – describe generally


Look at the MIGRATE CD and if there are additional docs to add to the folders send to migrate@ou.edu – could be pdf of a poster or a paper or anything else – the folders will be posted online


S. Bearhop: Just start sending anything on migration that comes out; can do a folder for recent literature.


Meeting notes will be distributed after compiled and will also be posted


G. Bowen: Would like website password-protected for copyrighted material or a section within the website for copyrighted material.


D. Winkler: Don’t send anything you don’t have copyright to.