The Avian Migrant

The Avian Migrant: The Biology of Bird Migration

JOHN H. RAPPOLE
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 464
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/rapp14678
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Avian Migrant
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51863-5
    Subjects: Zoology, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-24)

    Migration is a form of dispersal involving regular movement and return between one place and another (Odum 1971:200; Fretwell 1972:130; Rappole 2005a), where “dispersal” is defined as a movement of an individual away from its place of birth or center of population density (Ricklefs 1973). For birds, the most typical form of migration involves an annually repeated, seasonal movement between the breeding range and those regions where breeding does not occur. The difference between migration for organisms in general and the phenomenon as it occurs in birds is principally a matter of scale in space and time. The purpose of...

  6. CHAPTER 2 BREEDING PERIOD
    (pp. 25-53)

    For migrants, the onset of breeding is limited by time of arrival and the state in which they arrive. The factors that affect the timing of spring migration, from departure from the wintering grounds to arrival on the breeding grounds, are the topic of chapter 6, where we consider both the proximate factors that affect arrival (e.g., circannual rhythms) and the factors that affect progress along the route, in addition to ultimate factors that shape evolutionary refinement of a given population’s migration biology. Here in chapter 2, we focus on that portion of the migrant life cycle commencing with arrival...

  7. CHAPTER 3 POSTBREEDING PERIOD
    (pp. 54-90)

    The postbreeding period is that portion of the annual cycle beginning with the termination of reproductive activities (adults) or independence from adults (juveniles) and ending with departure on migration. For most Temperate Zone migrants, this period involves a significant segment of time during which adults and juveniles undergo the prebasic molt and prepare for their departure (Dwight 1900; Stresemann and Stresemann 1966; Ginn and Melville 1983; Pyle 1997; Leu and Thompson 2002). This period generally is treated either as part of the breeding or the transient phase of the annual cycle (see species accounts in del Hoyo et al. [1992–...

  8. CHAPTER 4 FALL TRANSIENT PERIOD
    (pp. 91-129)

    The fall transient period begins with the end of the postbreeding period as the bird departs on fall migration. From an evolutionary perspective, this is the most critical portion of the annual cycle because, whereas it is relatively easy to understand how a dispersing individual might leave its natal territory to move a considerable distance to a new breeding site, it is difficult to understand how this first migrant gets back to its natal area after successful completion of breeding, and even more formidable to comprehend how its offspring complete such a journey. We will address these and related issues...

  9. CHAPTER 5 WINTERING PERIOD
    (pp. 130-170)

    The “wintering period” is the nonbreeding portion of the life cycle in which the migrant spends the majority of its time, and the “winter range” is the place where the majority of its population spends that period. For many species of migrants (e.g., Red-eyed Vireo [Vireo olivaceus]), this classification is straightforward, with a wintering period spent in northern South America that lasts from the end of October to the beginning of April (figure 5.1). For some other species of migrants—for example, the Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)—the movement to the wintering ground is more complex, involving at least one...

  10. CHAPTER 6 SPRING TRANSIENT PERIOD
    (pp. 171-197)

    The spring transient period begins with departure from the wintering area and ends with arrival at the breeding area. As in the case of fall migration, the ultimate cause for the behavioral and physiologic changes associated with departure for the breeding area seem clear (i.e., to place the individual in the optimal environment for survival and/or reproduction) (Mayr and Meise 1930; Williams 1958; Rappole and Jones 2002; Rappole et al. 2003). The context, however, is different from fall migration in that, at least for most adult migrants, the emphasis is on the “reproduction” aspect of the fitness equation rather than...

  11. CHAPTER 7 POPULATION ECOLOGY
    (pp. 198-230)

    The historical, and perhaps still most prevalent, understanding of migratory bird population ecology assumes that density-dependent competition for limited resources occurs mainly or solely during the breeding period and serves principally to control breeding population size, or the number of individuals that actually participate in production of offspring. Total population size—all the individuals that compose a population whether or not they reproduce—is assumed to be controlled largely by density-independent factors (e.g., predation, disease, or accidents acting mostly during the nonbreeding period) (von Haartman 1971; Sherry and Holmes 1995). Even in situations in which competition during the nonbreeding period...

  12. CHAPTER 8 EVOLUTION AND BIOGEOGRAPHY
    (pp. 231-269)

    The theory on which we base our understanding of the evolution of migration may be stated as follows: Migration is a form of dispersal in which resident, subadult birds entering their first breeding season are forced to leave by adult conspecifics. Dispersal is random in terms of both direction and distance, but some individuals move to areas distant from the original breeding area where resources (e.g., food, nest sites, or mates) allow successful reproduction. If the new area is aseasonal (i.e., in the sense that the individual can survive throughout the annual cycle and reproduce without having to go elsewhere),...

  13. CHAPTER 9 MIGRATORY BIRDS AND PATHOGEN MOVEMENT
    (pp. 270-283)

    The ecology, evolution, and life history of migratory birds are rather arcane subjects for the public at large until they present the potential of impinging upon human well-being. Then it becomes obvious that there are important connections between humans and migrant birds and that there are certain critical aspects of migrant biology that are important for us to understand. At the beginning of the West Nile virus outbreak in October 1999, I was contacted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Defense, and a staffer from a U.S. Senate committee, all of whom...

  14. CHAPTER 10 CONNECTIVITY AND CONSERVATION
    (pp. 284-301)

    As our knowledge of the migrant life cycle has increased, it has become clear that understanding only one portion of that cycle will not necessarily allow us to determine what threats confront each migrant species. The study of migrant “connectivity” represents an attempt to confront this basic issue.

    “Connectivity” is defined as “the degree to which individuals of populations are geographically arranged among two or more periods of the annual cycle (Webster et al. 2002; Marra et al. 2006)” (Boulet and Norris 2006a:1). The concept is pertinent to understanding several different aspects of life history, and, where appropriate, “connectivity” data...

  15. CHAPTER 11 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 302-316)

    This chapter represents a brief summation of major points concerning migratory bird ecology, life history, and evolution that have been addressed in this book. These points are presented in the following sections sequentially according to the chapters in which the points were raised. Because this discussion concerns matters of conjecture rather than research findings, at least in part, I switch from the first person plural to first person singular to emphasize the fact that the opinions expressed are my own.

    I view migration as a behavior used to exploit geographically separate environments that differ seasonally in their value for survival...

  16. APPENDIX A. POPULATION DYNAMICS OF PERIODIC BREEDERS
    (pp. 317-329)
    ALAN S. PINE
  17. APPENDIX B. AGE-STRUCTURED PERIODIC BREEDERS
    (pp. 330-344)
    ALAN S. PINE
  18. REFERENCES
    (pp. 345-414)
  19. TAXONOMIC INDEX
    (pp. 415-422)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 423-436)