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Articles on animal migration published in BioScience

The February 2007 issue of BioScience, the monthly journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), includes a special section on animal migration that features six articles exploring biologists understanding of this pervasive and vital syndrome.

Animal migration fascinated the ancients and continues to fascinate researchers today. An often highly complex, synchronized suite of changes in behavior, morphology, and physiology enables journeys that may be epic in scale. These feats of endurance and navigation are widely regarded as some of the most astonishing of natures spectacles. Researchers have gained some important insights into the evolution of migration, yet very much remains unknown about the multiple mechanisms that animals call on when they migrate.

Technology is starting to help. In recent years, new capabilities resulting from the revolution in molecular biology have made phenomena such as migration increasingly susceptible to analysis in genetic and even molecular terms. In addition, advances in tracking techniques, including stable isotope analysis for identifying locations an animal has visited and miniaturization of transmitters and receivers, have started to contribute to scientific understanding of migration.

Another reason for focusing on migration is more urgent. Global warming is changing the timing of bud bursts and myriad other cyclical processes that provide food for wildlife, and driving many birds and insects to move their ranges. In some birds, warming may favor shorter migration distances, but the complexity of migration is such that trying to predict the consequences for species in general borders on the impossible. Yet only by obtaining a clearer picture of how migration really works will researchers be able to plan strategies for mitigating the effects of warming.

BioSciences special section on animal migration was coordinated by Hugh Dingle and V. Alistair Drake, who have brought together a di
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Contact: Donna Royston
droyston@aibs.org
202-628-1500
American Institute of Biological Sciences
1-Feb-2007


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