Effects of seasonal dynamics on a migratory species since the Last Glacial Maximum

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.

Species on the Move

An International Conference Series

The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

© 2015 - 2019 Conference Design Pty Ltd