National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Coordination Networks in Biological Sciences (RCN) National Science Foundation (NSF)
Animal Migration Interest Group: Research Applied Toward Education



MIGRATE is a network of scientists pursuing an integrated understanding of animal migration.

Many questions in animal biology require the ability to track animal migration . These movements reflect an animal’s need to eat, to breed, to avoid predators and to find a tolerable physiological environment over the short term. Each animal’s migration is a reflection of its attempt to maximize its fitness in complex and changing environments. Because migration behavior is a labile trait, it contains information about the integrated organism’s response to recent changes in the environment. These properties make migration behavior an ideal metric for understanding organismal responses to changing environments (e.g., climate change and land use change).

Because tracking animal movement is central to answering so many questions in animal biology, the past century has seen constant innovation in tracking methods. This innovation, like most technology driven fields, has become very rapid and multi-disciplinary over the past decade. The MIGRATE network will bring together specialists in multiple disparate approaches to the study of animal migration to foster cross-disciplinary advances in the accuracy and precision with which long-distance movement data can be collected and analyzed.

A Question Driven Network – At our 2007 meeting MIGRATE participants debated the core questions that drive our need to advance animal tracking technology.  We reached consensus on these four priority questions that will drive technological innovation:

  1. What are the determinants of behavioral plasticity in migrants and what are the constraints on behavioral adaptation?
  2. What are the determinants of individual fitness?
  3. What are the drivers of population dynamics in migratory animals?
  4. What is the impact of environmental change on migratory life histories.  In particular, what are the effects of land use and climate change