Author ORCID Identifier
0000-0001-8235-6411 : Oliver Love
geo-logging, geolocation, method, movement, songbird, tracking
In 2007, the first miniature light-level geolocators were deployed on small landbirds, revolutionizing the study of migration. In this paper, we review studies that have used geolocators to track small landbirds with the goal of summarizing research themes and identifying remaining important gaps in understanding. We also highlight research and opportunities using 2 recently developed tracking technologies: archival GPS tags and automated radio-telemetry systems. In our review, we found that most (54%) geolocator studies focused on quantifying natural history of migration, such as identifying migration routes, nonbreeding range, and migration timing. Studies of behavioral ecology (20%) uncovered proximate drivers of movements, including en route habitat quality; that migration routes, but not timing, may be flexible in some species; and different age and sex classes show significant differences in migration strategy. Studies of the evolution of migration (9%) have illustrated that migration is a potential barrier to hybridizing species or subspecies, and some work has correlated gene polymorphisms and methylation patterns with migration behavior. Studies of migratory connectivity (11%) have shown that a moderate level of connectivity is common, although variability across and within species exists. Studies of seasonal interactions (7%) have found mixed results: in some cases, carryover effects have been identified; in other cases, carryover effects are buffered during intervening stages of the annual cycle. Archival GPS tags provide unprecedented precision in locations of nonbreeding sites and migration routes, and will continue to improve understanding of migration across large spatial scales. Automated radio-telemetry systems are revolutionizing our knowledge of migratory stopover biology, and have led to discoveries of previously unknown stopover behaviors. Together, these tracking technologies will continue to provide insight into small migratory landbird movements and contribute important information for conservation of this rapidly declining group.
McKinnon, Emily A. and Love, Oliver P.. (2018). Ten years tracking the migrations of small landbirds: Lessons learned in the golden age of bio-logging. Auk, 135 (4), 834-856.