Bird migration within the Neotropics

Author: Jahn, Alex E. et al.

Year: 2021

Publication: Ornithological Advances

Publication Link: https://academic.oup.com/auk/article/137/4/ukaa033/5879312

Keywords: altitudinal migration, conservation, intra-tropical migration, life history, migration drivers, Neotropical
austral migration

Abstract: Although the migration ecology of birds breeding in the Neotropics is still poorly studied relative to that of their counterparts
breeding at north-temperate latitudes, studies conducted over the last 2 decades have revealed that migration in the
Neotropics is much more common and diverse than previously thought. These studies have identified dozens of species that
migrate latitudinally within South America, altitudinally within various mountain ranges, to and between Caribbean islands,
and longitudinally across diverse ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest. Advances in miniaturized tracking technologies,
enormous citizen science databases, and powerful analytical approaches provide an unprecedented ability to detect and
evaluate temporally and spatially fine-scale patterns, greatly facilitating the study of migratory patterns across tropical
regions. We argue that a renewed effort in research on short- and long-distance bird migration within the Neotropics will
allow (1) comparative studies that identify the emergent properties of migratory behavior, (2) identification of the convergent
or unique mechanistic drivers of migration across diverse ecological settings, (3) formulation of effective conservation and
management plans for migratory Neotropical birds, and (4) predictions about how migratory birds will respond to large-scale
climatic changes within the Neotropics. Here, we review the current state of knowledge on Neotropical bird migration, with a
focus on South America. We specifically examine similarities and differences in the observed migratory patterns of birds that
breed in the Nearctic compared to the Neotropics and highlight key future research questions.

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