Dr Kasper Thorup1
1University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Birds and many other animals move in response to seasonal resource availability. Some of the longest-distance Afro-Palearctic migrants perform surprisingly complex spatiotemporal schedules apparently fine-tuned to current seasonal availability of resources. It is still an open question how migratory species with highly complex programmes have responded to glacial cycles and it has been suggested that migratory species could have been resident during glacial maxima – a migratory switch. Direct tracking of current spatiotemporal schedules in red-backed shrikes has shown overall similar spatiotemporal use of non-breeding sites across the annual cycle. Based on the current resource use, we hindcast the habitat availability back to the Last Glacial Maximum indicating that complex migration dynamics have persisted throughout glacial cycles. The results indicate that migration patterns are labile over time and that a migratory lifestyle might be beneficially adapted to various climatic conditions. The results are important for evaluating potential effects of future climate change and potential changes in migratory behaviour as well as for understanding current seasonal distributions of migrants.
I am Associate Professor in Ornithology and head of the Copenhagen Bird Ringing Centre at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen. I mainly work on long-distance migratory birds and how they exploit the seasonally changing environment across continents. Apart from tracking the movements of a suite of species from the Arctic to the Tropics using a variety of tracking technologies, a main focus is on conservation of this declining group of birds.