Frank R. Moore
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
BSC 442/542 Behavioral Ecology
My graduate students and I study the behavior and ecology of migration. Migration is a fundamental characteristic of the life history of many organisms and is surely one of the most fascinating of all behavior. Nearly two-thirds of all North American landbirds undertake migrations between temperate breeding areas and tropical wintering quarters. Although many landbird migrants are capable of making spectacular, non-stop flights over ecological barriers, few actually engage in nonstop flights between points of origin and destination, rather they stopover periodically between migratory flights. Indeed, the cumulative amount of time spent at stopover sites far exceeds time spent in flight and determines the total duration of migration. When a migratory bird stops en route, she almost invariably finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings at a time when energy demands are high, often faced with the need to acquire food in a short period of time, while balancing often conflicting demands between predator avoidance and food acquisition, competition with other migrants and resident birds for limited resources, unfavorable weather, exposure to parasites and pathogens, not to mention the need to make accurate orientation decisions upon departure. How well she meets these challenges will determine the success of her migration, while a successful migration is measured in terms of survival and reproductive performance. Long term, programmatic research in my lab has been organized around the challenges migrants face when they stop over during migration, how migrants meet those challenges, and the consequences of their response to en route challenges.
Our research has recently taken on a sense of urgency because populations of many migratory songbirds are on the decline. These declines are linked to deforestation on wintering grounds in Central and South America and fragmentation of forested breeding habitats. Our work is calling attention to a third factor -- the availability of suitable habitat during migration, where energy stores critical to a successful migration can be safely deposited. The biology of migrants during migration must figure in any analysis of population change and in the formulation of sound conservation policy.
Current Graduate Students | Migratory Bird Research Group
Moore, F. R., R. J. Smith, and R. Sandberg. 2005. Stopover ecology of intercontinental migrants: En route problems and consequences for reproductive performance. Pp. 251-261. In: Birds of Two Worlds – the ecology and evolution of migration. R. Greenberg and P. Marra, eds. John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, MD.
Muhiem, R., F. R. Moore, and J. B. Phillips. 2006. Calibration of magnetic and celestial cues in migratory birds – a review of cue-conflict experiments. J. Experimental Biology 209:2-17.
Owen, J., F. Moore, N. Panella, E. Edwards, R. Bru, M. Hughes, N. Komar. 2006. Migrating birds as dispersal vehicles of West Nile virus, Ecohealth 3(2): 79-85.
Buler, J. J., F. R. Moore, and S. Woltmann. 2007. A multi-scale examination of stopover habitat use by birds. Ecology 88: 1789-1802.
Fuchs, T., D. Maury, F. R. Moore, and V. P. Bingman. 2008. Daytime micro-naps in a nocturnal migrant: an EEG analysis. Biology Letters 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0405.
Owen, J.C., F.R. Moore, A.J. Williams, E.A. Miller, L.C. Wilson, V. Morley, R.N. Abbey-Lee, B.A. Veeneman, B. DeRussey, M. McWhorter, M.C. Garvin. 2010. Test of recrudescence hypothesis for overwintering of West Nile virus. Journal of Medical Entomology 47: 451-457.
Buler, J. J. and F. R. Moore. 2011. Migrant-Habitat Relationships during stopover along an ecological barrier: extrinsic constraints and conservation implications. J. Ornithology 152: DOI: 10.1007/s10336-010-0640-7.