Understanding animal migration is one of the most compelling and challenging problems of modern biology. Each year hundreds of millions of birds migrate extensive distances between their breeding and wintering grounds. These migratory journeys are comprised of extended flights interrupted by stopover periods during which birds refuel, rest, molt, and seek shelter from unfavorable weather conditions and predators. Successful migration depends on the availability of favorable atmospheric conditions aloft and suitable habitat during stopovers. Our ability to understand bird migration, and animal migration in general, has generally been hindered by the large geographic scale of migratory movements, the relatively short time period over which migration takes place, and the small size of most migratory animals. Advances in tracking technology, remote sensing and power of computing resources offer us new tools and approaches to empirically track small migratory animals and integrate measurements of atmospheric and land surface conditions at high spatial resolution over entire continents to better understand this phenomenon. Integrating data collected at large scales with ecological, behavioral and physiological data at small scales and quantitative models allows us to understand the role migration plays in population regulation and the behavioral strategies that birds use to negotiate large geographic features, like the Gulf of Mexico.
Please see the recent media coverage of our work presented in Merida, Yucatan.