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Partial migration

Animal migration is a spectacular behavioural phenomenon that has fascinated mankind for thousands of years. It is exceptionally widespread and has been documented in a diverse array of animals, from huge whales to miniscule zooplankton. Migration drives powerful spatial and temporal variation in the density of animals, which can have profound effects upon population, community and ecosystem dynamics. The most common form of migration in animals is known as partial migration, and understanding the ecology and evolution of partial migration is the focus of our project.

Partial migration describes intrapopulation variation in migratory tendency i.e. when just a fraction of a population migrates and a fraction remains resident within a single habitat the whole year around. This phenomenon is ubiquitous amongst migratory animals, and has been reported for many species of fish, birds, amphibians, insects and mammals. Perhaps surprisingly, given the attention migration has received in the past century from biologists, and given its prevalence in nature, partial migration remains relatively understudied. The ultimate mechanisms that drive individual differences in migratory tendency remain controversial, and very little empirical work has considered the potential evolutionary consequences of partial migration. Hence research to address these questions is critical and, in addition to being of fundamental scientific importance may also have important applied consequences. Here at Lund in the Aquatic Ecology division we currently study the causes and consequences of partial migration in three model systems: cyprinid fishes, cod and zooplankton.

The study of migration is inherently multidisciplinary, and we combine longitudinal field data of migratory patterns via passive telemetry with ecosystem monitoring, theoretical studies, manipulative behavioural experiments, molecular and microchemical analyses, and nanotechnology to ask fundamental questions about the ecology and evolution of partial migration in animals. We are involved in a number of collaborative projects with scientists from the Danish Technical University (DTU) and EAWAG Switzerland.

Recent and current projects include:The ecological consequences of partial migration

  • Elucidating the drivers of partial migration
  • Individual differences in migratory tendency and animal personality
  • Developing new technologies to track animal movement at the mm scale
  • Developing fisheries management strategies and predicting the response of marine partial migrants to climate change
  • The evolutionary consequences of partial migration
  • Migratory strategies and adaptations
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