our home page. It is our hope that access to our home page
will promote the exchange of ideas and information in the
area of animal migration.
part of the Department
of Biological Sciences at The
University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg,
Mississippi. Whereas our
interests are varied, we generally focus our attention on the
ecophysiology, behavior, and ecology of migratory birds during
passage. Currently, eight graduate students and several undergraduate
students pursue research as part of the Migratory Bird Research Group.
Robb Diehl or any of the
graduate students at
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive #
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
Voice: (601)266-4394 Fax:(610)266-5797
is a fundamental characteristic of the life history of many
organisms from monarch butterflies to marine mammals and is
surely one of the most fascinating of all behaviors. More
than two-thirds of all the birds that breed in the United
States and Canada (i.e., temperate North America) migrate
to tropical wintering areas in Mexico, Central and South America,
and the islands of the Caribbean.
Some biologists have
speculated that long-distance, intercontinental landbird migrants
experience the best of two worlds: increased reproductive
success by virtue of breeding in food rich, competitor poor
temperate areas in the summer, and increased survival by spending
the temperate winter in the tropics. This argument has merit,
but we must keep in mind that migration is a costly, energy
expensive, high risk event that takes its toll in increased
mortality, especially among young, naive birds-of-the year.
Consider just a few
of the problems a migrant must face during passage: She must
adjust to unfamiliar habitats, find enough food to fuel long,
migratory flights, resolve often conflicting demands between
predator avoidance and meeting energetic requirements, correct
for orientation mistakes, and cope with adverse weather.
research program focuses on the behavioral and physiological
adaptations that have evolved to solve those problems. To
the extent that a migratory bird solves those problems --
satisfies energy demands and meets en route contingencies
-- she experiences a successful migration. A successful migration
is measured in terms of survival and reproductive success.
Furthermore, how well
these birds 'offset' the costs of migration has obvious implications
for understanding population limitation, not to mention regulation,
and, hence, the conservation of landbird migrant species.
Over the past 20 years, numbers of these birds have declined,
in some cases dramatically. There is no obvious or easy explanation
for the declines, although attention has focused largely on
events associated with the breeding and wintering phases of
the migrant's annual cycle. We contend that conservation biologists
must also take into account the importance of habitat during
migration and the 'decisions' made in relation to habitat
at that time when developing conservation strategies for migratory
University of Southern Mississippi. Last modified:
08 June, 2009
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