Climate-driven flyway changes and memory-based long-distance migration

Authors: Zhongru Gu, Shengkai Pan1, Zhenzhen Lin, Li Hu, Xiaoyang Dai, Jiang Chang, Yuanchao Xue, Han Su, Juan Long, Mengru Sun, Sergey Ganusevich,Vasiliy Sokolov, Aleksandr Sokolov, Ivan Pokrovsky, Fen Ji, Michael W. Bruford, Andrew Dixon & Xiangjiang Zhan

Year: 2021

Publication: Nature

Publication Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03265-0

Abstract: Millions of migratory birds occupy seasonally favourable breeding grounds in the Arctic, but we know little about the formation, maintenance and future of the migration routes of Arctic birds and the genetic determinants of migratory distance. Here we established a continental-scale migration system that used satellite tracking to follow 56 peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) from 6 populations that breed in the Eurasian Arctic, and resequenced 35 genomes from 4 of these populations. The breeding populations used five migration routes across Eurasia, which were probably formed by longitudinal and latitudinal shifts in their breeding grounds during the transition from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Holocene epoch. Contemporary environmental divergence between the routes appears to maintain their distinctiveness. We found that the gene ADCY8 is associated with population-level differences in migratory distance. We investigated the regulatory mechanism of this gene, and found that long-term memory was the most likely selective agent for divergence in ADCY8 among the peregrine populations. Global warming is predicted to influence migration strategies and diminish the breeding ranges of peregrine populations of the Eurasian Arctic. Harnessing ecological interactions and evolutionary processes to study climate-driven changes in migration can facilitate the conservation of migratory birds.

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