Stopping-over is critical for migrating birds. Yet, our knowledge of bird stopover distributions and their mechanisms near wide ecological barriers is limited. Using low elevation scans of three weather radars covering 81,343 km2, we quantified large-scale bird departure patterns during spring and autumn (2014–2018) in between two major ecological barriers, the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea. Boosted Regression Tree models revealed that bird distributions differed between the seasons, with higher densities in the desert and its edge, as well as inland from the sea, during spring and a predominantly coastal distribution in the autumn. Bird distributions were primarily associated with broad-scale geographic and anthropogenic factors rather than individual fine-scale habitat types. Notably, artificial light at night strongly correlated with high densities of migrants, especially in the autumn. Autumn migrants also selected sites located close to water sources. Our findings substantially advance the understanding of bird migration ecology near ecological barriers and facilitate informed conservation efforts in a highly populated region by identifying a few high-priority stopover areas of migrating birds.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by a KKL-JNF forestry department grant “Examining the effects of forest properties on migrating birds that utilize KKL-JNF forests using comprehensive radar scans” (grant no. 90-05-182-19). Additionally, IS was supported by the Minerva Center for Movement Ecology and NS was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 702/17). Funding was also provided from USDA NIFA Hatch (grant no. DEL-00774) to JB.
Copyright © 2022 Schekler, Smolinsky, Troupin, Buler and Sapir.
- biodiversity monitoring
- bird conservation
- East-Mediterranean flyway
- light pollution
- Palearctic-Afrotropical migratory birds
- radar ornithology
- stopover ecology
- weather radars
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics