The Avian Migrant: The Biology of Bird Migration

The Avian Migrant: The Biology of Bird Migration

by John Rappole


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The Avian Migrant: The Biology of Bird Migration by John Rappole

The purpose of migration, regardless of the distance involved, is to exploit two or more environments suitable for survival or reproduction over time, usually on a seasonal basis. Yet individual organisms can practice the phenomenon differently, and birds deploy unique patterns of movement over particular segments of time. Incorporating the latest research on bird migration, this concise, critical assessment offers contemporary readers a firm grasp of what defines an avian migrant, how the organism came to be, what is known about its behavior, and how we can resolve its enduring mysteries.

John H. Rappole's sophisticated survey of field data clarifies key ecological, biological, physiological, navigational, and evolutionary concerns. He begins with the very first migrants, who traded a home environment of greater stability for one of greater seasonality, and uses the structure of the annual cycle to examine the difference between migratory birds and their resident counterparts. He ultimately connects these differences to evolutionary milestones that have shaped a migrant lifestyle through natural selection. Rather than catalogue and describe various aspects of bird migration, Rappole considers how the avian migrant fits within a larger ecological frame, enabling a richer understanding of the phenomenon and its critical role in sustaining a hospitable and productive environment. Rappole concludes with a focus on population biology and conservation across time periods, considering the link between bird migration and the spread of disease among birds and humans, and the effects of global warming on migrant breeding ranges, reaction norms, and macroecology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231146784
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 06/11/2013
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John H. Rappole is research scientist emeritus at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. He has studied the ecology of migratory birds for four decades and has written more than 150 professional publications and 13 books for both popular and professional audiences, including The Ecology of Migrant Birds: A Neotropical Perspective and Wildlife of the Mid-Atlantic: A Complete Reference Manual.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

1 Introduction 1

Development of Human Understanding of Migration 2

Origins of Migration 3

Types of Migration 5

Patterns of Migration Within Species 20

Adaptations for Migration 21

2 Breeding Period 25

Beginning the Cycle: Arrival at the Breeding Grounds 25

Site Fidelity and Dispersal 30

Habitat Selection 33

Interval Between Arrival and Reproduction 37

Reproduction 39

3 Postbreeding Period 54

Purposes of the Postbreeding Period 55

Movements and Habitat Use During the Postbreeding Period 63

Duration of the Postbreeding Period 75

Timing and Siting of the Prebasic Molt in Relation to Other Major Life Cycle Events 82

4 Fall Transient Period 91

Preparation for Departure 91

Cues for Departure 95

Timing of Departure Within the Fall Transient Period 101

Timing of Departure Within the Circadian Period 106

Migratory Flight 107

Migration Route 113

Orientation and Navigation 124

Stopover 128

5 Wintering Period 130

Arrival 130

Social Structure During the Nonbreeding Period 137

Nonbreeding/Winter Distribution 152

6 Spring Transient Period 171

Preparation for Departure 171

Cues for Departure 172

Timing of Departure Within the Spring Transient Period 175

Timing of Departure Within the Circadian Period 179

Migratory Flight (Zugstimmung) 180

Migration Route 180

Orientation and Navigation 185

Stopover 186

Climate Change 194

7 Population Ecology 198

Theory 200

Population Change 211

Causes of Migrant Population Change 217

8 Evolution and Biogeography 231

The Theory 231

Exaptations Versus Adaptations for Migration 232

Genetics of Migration 233

Rapid Development of Migration 236

Reaction Norms 245

Population Differentiation 246

Ornithogeography and Migration Patterns 254

The World's Principal Migration Systems 260

9 Migratory Birds and Pathogen Movement 270

West Nile Virus 271

Avian Influenza 277

10 Connectivity and Conservation 284

Connectivity 284

Conservation 294

11 Conclusion 302

Migration as a Life History Strategy 315

Appendix A Population Dynamics of Periodic Breeders 317

Generalized Single-Habitat Logistic Models 318

Multiple-Habitat Models 323

Discrete Models 325

Metamorphic and Spawning Species with Non-Overlapping Generations 327

Threshold Effects 328

Summary 329

Appendix B Age-Structured Periodic Breeders 330

Age-Independent Periodic Breeders 332

Age-Structured Models 332

Summary 343

References 345

Taxonomic Index 415

Index 423

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