Simulating Bird Migration using Satellites and Biophysics

J.A. Smith and J.L. Deppe (USA)


Bird migration, remote sensing, avian energetics, geostatistics, environmental modeling


Many migratory species have experienced population declines over the past several decades. The mechanisms underlying these declines are not clear, but a major concern of conservation biologists is that broad-scale reductions in the availability and quality of stopover habitat will negatively impact migratory bird populations by eliminating critical links along migratory flyways. Successful conservation and management of migratory birds requires an understanding of the bigger picture of how a migratory flyway and its component stopover sites function as a whole and the role the migratory phase plays in population regulation Advances in remote sensing and information technologies provide us with measurements of atmospheric and land surface conditions at varying spatial resolution and offer new tools for understanding migration phenomena at continental scales. In this paper, we explore how simulation models can be used to integrate data on environmental conditions and knowledge of avian physiology and ecology to predict continental-scale migration patterns. We use an individual based, bird migration model that incorporates bird biophysical properties, movement behavior, avian energetics and spatially varying environmental suitability. We describe the application of our model to the spring migration of a population of Calidris melanotos (Pectoral Sandpiper) in North America at a 0.25 degree by 0.25 degree resolution.

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