Manx Shearwaters at sea (Photo: Ben Dean)

Manx Shearwaters at sea (Photo: Ben Dean)

Animal migrations are one of the natural world’s most captivating phenomena, often involving global journeys to remote and inaccessible locations. Modern tracking technologies are revealing new and important insights in the movement and distribution of many migratory species. However, understanding behaviour during migration can be much more complex.

Using a combination of GPS and geolocation tracking, we have recently been able to reveal the migratory behaviour of the Manx Shearwater, a seabird that undertakes a 20,000km migration from the UK to South America each year. Using predictive ethoinformatics we are able to uncover the rich behaviour that underlies migration. We find that periods of foraging, flight and rest occur throughout the journey, at different locations, and in areas with particular environmental conditions. Understanding such behaviour during migration is critical for identifying important at-sea locations and for conservation efforts.

Such ethoinformatics approaches will be useful where increasingly low-cost, lightweight, devices are beginning to record the year-round behaviour of animals in the wild.

R Freeman, B Dean, H Kirk, K Leonard, R Phillips, C Perrins, T Guilford
(2013) Predictive ethoinformatics reveals the complex migratory behaviour of a pelagic seabird, the Manx Shearwater. Royal Society Interface. 10 (84).

Available here: http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/10/84/2013