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In a changing world, migrating species see varying success

Cara J

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Researchers recently looked at the bigger picture of how migratory birds, mammals and fishes are faring in a world constantly changed by humans. “We had all heard a lot about scientists being concerned about migratory species being threatened in our rapidly developing world,” said TWS member Molly Hardesty-Moore, lead author of the study and a PhD student at the University of California-Santa Barbara. “We looked into the literature, and there are great studies on migratory species out there, but nobody had taken a broader look.” In the study published in a special edition of Philosophical Transactions B called “Collective Movement Ecology,” Hardesty-Moore and her colleagues used two large databases — the Living Planet Index, which measures biodiversity based on population trends, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, a more comprehensive analysis of species’ statuses — to determine vulnerability and extinction risk of migratory mammals, birds and fishes around the world. The team looked at more than 4,000 migratory species and split them into taxonomic groups, as well as by ecosystems such as terrestrial, marine or freshwater. Their first conclusion was that every species’ situation depends on the context. A group’s collective behavior, such as staying in [...]

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