Grand challenges in migration biology

Melissa S. Bowlin, Isabelle Anne Bisson, Judy Shamoun-Baranes, Jonathan D. Reichard, Nir Sapir, Peter P. Marra, Thomas H. Kunz, David S. Wilcove, Anders Hedenström, Christopher G. Guglielmo, Susanne Åkesson, Marilyn Ramenofsky, Martin Wikelski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Billions of animals migrate each year. To successfully reach their destination, migrants must have evolved an appropriate genetic program and suitable developmental, morphological, physiological, biomechanical, behavioral, and life-history traits. Moreover, they must interact successfully with biotic and abiotic factors in their environment. Migration therefore provides an excellent model system in which to address several of the "grand challenges" in organismal biology. Previous research on migration, however, has often focused on a single aspect of the phenomenon, largely due to methodological, geographical, or financial constraints. Integrative migration biology asks 'big questions' such as how, when, where, and why animals migrate, which can be answered by examining the process from multiple ecological and evolutionary perspectives, incorporating multifaceted knowledge from various other scientific disciplines, and using new technologies and modeling approaches, all within the context of an annual cycle. Adopting an integrative research strategy will provide a better understanding of the interactions between biological levels of organization, of what role migrants play in disease transmission, and of how to conserve migrants and the habitats upon which they depend.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-279
Number of pages19
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science


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