More information about CAnMove and the research activities within the programme can be found at:


tisdag 22 december 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dear All,

I wish to thank you all for your contributions to CAnMove in 2009. It has been a year full of activities and adventures. New staff and postdocs emplyed, two workshops, the migration course, invited lecturers, a full seminar program, invited speakers and new collaborations. It is with great joy I see how much we have achieved this year, and it is also with great excitement and hope I look forward to the coming year. We will have our first CAnMove conference in Lund, and please note 30 March 2009 for the date. Topic will be technical development and research in our program.

I hope you all take a good rest and enjoy the snow over the Christmas Holiday Season. I look forward to see you again in January 2009!

Best wishes,


torsdag 3 december 2009

On satellite telemetry and mortality

In 1996 the first Swedish Ospreys were equipped with satellite transmitters, small electronic devices that allow tracking the movements of individual birds in nearly real-time. For the first time the impressive migratory movements of this raptor bird could be mapped, along with details about stopover behaviour, timing of migration, migration speeds, etc. The satellite tracking program has continued ever since (still running today), in which many individuals of different species of birds have been included. The research has provided many new insights in the migratory behaviours of birds, and resulted in two PhD theses (Nils Kjellén and Roine Strandberg).

Adult female Marsh Harrier “Fe06-66” has just been equipped with a satellite transmitter. The small electronic device allowed us to track the movements of this bird for the rest of its life. This particular female disappeared under suspicious circumstances in France. Most likely she was (illegally) shot by a hunter.

One of the downsides of satellite telemetry is that it is a rather expensive technique, and thus only a small number of birds can be followed every year. Because of these small sample sizes it is extra unfortunate to lose a bird that we are tracking. However, when, where, and under what circumstances migrating animals die is interesting information in itself. It is almost impossible to collect data on this important topic in any other way. Every case of mortality is thus sad but interesting at the same time.

Last locations obtained from the female Marsh Harrier Fe04-53, during her second autumn migration. She started to cross the Mediterranean Sea on the 27th of September under good metrological conditions. Midway the crossing she suddenly stopped moving, and she remained at this location for more than a day. Subsequent signals were received from the south coast of Spain, where the transmitter moved westwards at the speed of a car and disappeared into a small town. The last position was received from a large building. This bird was presumably shot by poachers that await migrating birds in small boats.

After 12 years of tracking migrating raptor birds a sufficiently large dataset on had been accumulated in order to look for patterns in when and where migrants die. In a recent paper we have focussed on risks associated with the crossing of the Sahara Desert, a formidable barrier for billions of Eurasian breeding birds wintering in African. We evaluated about 90 tracks across the desert of Ospreys, Marsh Harriers, Honey Buzzards and Hobbies. The passage turned out to be very hazardous for juvenile birds; during their first autumn migration about one third of the young birds died while attempting crossing the desert. For adult birds only 2% direct mortality was recorded per desert crossing, which still contributes significantly to their annual mortality. Additionally, adult birds showed in nearly half of their crossings aberrant behaviours, like abrupt course changes, slow travel speeds, interruptions and retreats from the desert, indicating problems during the passage. Aberrant behaviours during the crossing in spring resulted in late arrival at breeding grounds and an increased probability of breeding failure (carry-over effects). The Sahara Desert is thus indeed a true barrier for migrating (raptor) birds, and has a major effect on has a major impact on both survival and breeding success.

Juvenile Osprey “Juv61-07” succumbed just before it had completed the crossing of the Sahara Desert. This happens to about one third of the young birds in their attempt to overcome this almost everlasting dry environment.

The death of an Osprey in the desert as seen from GPS location fixes. This particular transmitter was sending for several weeks from exactly the same location. It is impossible for the birds to drop their transmitter, stationary positions thus indicate death.

A collaborator in Mauretania succesfully located a juvenile Osprey that failed to cross the desert. The transmitter was returned to Lund and can thus be used to track another hopefully longer living Osprey.

The paper on risks associated with the crossing of the Sahara Desert can be found at:
(Roine Strandberg, Raymond H.G. Klaassen, Mikael Hake & Thomas Alerstam. 2009. How hazardous is the Sahara Desert crossing for migratory birds? Indications from satellite tracking of raptors. Biology Letters).

måndag 23 november 2009

CAnMoves Susanne Åkesson wins an August

At the prize ceremony tonight (23 November) at the concert hall in Stockholm the 2009 August prize for facts books was awarded to Susanne Åkesson and Brutus Östling for their book "Surviving the Day". This book, which is about birds' senses and how birds use them, is written by CAnMoves co-ordinator Susanne and is beautifully illustrated by Brutus Östlings spectacular photos. There were 6 nominations for best facts book and this is the first time the August prize is awarded for natural sciences.
Congratulations Susanne!

måndag 9 november 2009

More plastics and seabirds

Hello all,
just wanted to tell you about a project working with the problems of plastics in the North Sea area, using Fulmars as indicator species (a relative to the Albatross). As you can see, pollution is also a very serious problem in the North Sea.Take a look at http://www.zeevogelgroep.nl/ (pictures and reports under downloads in left column) or http://www.savethenorthsea.com/fulmars the last one is a bit out of date but is of specific interest for Swedish people since it is on the Keep Sweden Tidy website.CheersJohannis Danielsen

måndag 2 november 2009

A sea of plastics

Dear All,

I cannot resist sending you the following link I have recently received from a colleague, Sören Svensson at the Department of Animal Ecology here in Lund. Please, see this as food of thought on how beautiful migrating animals are affected by human activities. A polluted sea is a fact and will cause severe damage to seabird populations. This is an example from one of the more remote islands in the world in the Hawaiian archipelago at Midway atoll. I am stuck with the questions –Why? What can be done and how??


Best wishes,

måndag 19 oktober 2009

August prize nomination for CAnMove captain

CAnMove co-ordinator Susanne Åkesson has been nominated for this years August prize in the facts book class. She has authored the book “Att överleva dagen” (“surviving the day”), which is a book popular science about birds’ senses that is beautifully illustrated by the photographer Brutus Östling. This is the second time the team is nominated for the August prize, as their book about Penguins also received this honour in 2006. The August prize (named after August Strindberg) is the main annual literature prize for Swedish literature, and given for the best book in each of three classes (novels, facts and children’s book). The final decision on the winners is being made on 23 November.

onsdag 14 oktober 2009

End of Migration Course - Panel discussion on Conservation and Migration

It is time to say Thank You and Good Bye to all visitors, participants and lecturers, contributing to the 2009 version of the Ecology of Animal Migration course. It has been a great adventure to be coordinator of the course this year, as we have been a great team working with the course and had unusually many participants as well as local helpers. It has indeed been a very inspiring and exciting time! Thank You All! New for the course this year was the day covering conservation and migration, a very important issue and one which we also covered in a panel discussion in the end of the day. Miriam Liedvogel, our brave and dedicated CAnMove postdoc, met the challenge to summarize the discussion and has produced a document which is attached. You will also find more information on conservation issues in previous blogs and hopefully during upcoming discussions at the Course Facebook page, that has been set up by Cecilia Nilsson. You may consult Cecilia Nilsson (https://webmail.lu.se/owa/redir.aspx?C=13e312059ace4a71be8c83cbea1f06e2&URL=mailto%3aCecilia.nilsson%40zooekol.lu.se) or Keith Larson (https://webmail.lu.se/owa/redir.aspx?C=13e312059ace4a71be8c83cbea1f06e2&URL=mailto%3aKeith.larson%40zooekol.lu.se) to get access to the Course Facebook page, if of interest for you.
I found the end of the panel discussion especially hopeful, as some of the participants stressed the importance to look into what we as scientists can do locally in our own environment, to stimulate and educate the younger generation and a wider audience about fascinating adaptations as well as threats of migrating (moving) animals. I see that this topic is especially timely today, as we have heard a discussion about engagement in popular science communication by PhD students, as well as junior and senior scientists employed at the universities, in which Erik Svensson has been strongly engaged. I agree with Erik, and I cannot enough stress the importance to spread the interest and understanding of our study systems and organisms to a wider audience also for the importance to act on conserving some of the animals under threat. Communication is and will be crucial to tackle the conservation issues, but it will also inspire people to become engaged and to learn more and I think in the long run to want to protect the environment. We can all take part in popular science communication. And it is great fun!


Graduate student course: Ecology of Animal Migration organized by the Centre for Animal Movement Research (CAnMove) and Department of Animal Ecology at Lund University, Sweden, 29 Sept-9 Oct 2009

Panel discussion Thursday 8 Oct 2009: 15.30-16.30 in the Blue Lecture Hall
Conservation and migration research: what can be done?
Discussion panel: Brendan Godley, Henrik Smith, John Fryxell, Ronny Merkel, Zhjun Ma, Jenny Matthison
Moderator: Susanne Åkesson
Notes: Miriam Liedvogel

This year's course “Ecology of Animal Migration” was hosting a panel discussion about conservation of migrating animals. This format is new to the course and was added to raise awareness and provide a platform for discussion on questions conservation issues in migration research, encourage all course participants to become aware of the problem, but also to see possibilities, encouraging examples of successful management, and hope for future strategies and approaches. Key focus of the discussion was on the identification and understanding of important threats of moving animals in general, but also on the role of scientific research and its implementation in conservation management plans. It became very clear throughout the discussion that precise definition and strong focus on clear objectives is most crucial for successful communication between the informing (i.e. researchers) and deciding (i.e. policy makers) bodies.

Both participating students and leading scientists working in the field of conservation of migrating animals presented their view on conservation and animal migration and dispersal. Lectures of the Migration Ecology course that Prof. Henrik Smith, Lund University (pollinating insects in the agricultural landscape), Dr. Brendan Godley, University of Exeter (worldwide view on seaturtles), Prof. Zhjun Ma Fudan University, China (habitat loss in the Yellow Sea region, a crucial stopover site for migrating shorebirds), and Prof. John Fryxell (large mammal migration in the Serengeti).
The discussion started out with a presentation by Prof. Zhjun Ma, sketching the situation in the Yellow Sea region as a case example of conservation concern. The Yellow Sea region is a crucial stopover site for birds migrating along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF), where reclamation of coastal wetlands for agricultural use has caused a rapid loss and degradation of stopover habitats (~ 40% of the tidal flats were lost between 1980 and 2000). But the exact contribution of the Yellow Sea region to declining numbers of shorebirds is currently not fully understood. Further research is needed to understand the contribution of the Yellow Sea region to the generally observed decreasing numbers of shorebirds in Asia/Australia-Future conservation strategies in this area should integrate species, habitat and ecosystem based conservation efforts.
During the presentation and subsequent discussion it became clear that it is important to realize that the Yellow Sea not only is an important stopover site for birds on the EAAF, but also for humans, living in this area (i.e. 20 Mio people living in Shanghai, ~ ¼ of the GDP of China is produced in the Yellow Sea region). How is it possible to manage various interests of economy and conservation in this area? How can we point out the importance of the stopover area from the conservation point perspective without enhancing the conflict? What could be a strategy that aims for coordination between different interest groups rather than uncompromisingly stating the point of view and aims of different perspectives resulting in irresolvable conflict? The key seems to be to raise awareness of the conservation concerns of this area. One main strategy to achieve this is to communicate the importance of the stopover areas for migrating birds and the ecosystem itself. How is this realized in the Yellow Sea region?
One quite successful strategy along these lines has been to launch local birdwatcher groups. These became more and more popular after a field bird guide was published in 2000. The local birdwatcher groups established societies and are involved in environmental education schemes to raise awareness of the problem in the wider public. On a more global scale, several international agreements have been signed, i.e. China and Australia have signed a Migrating Bird Agreement already in 1988, and other agreements have followed. Non-governmental organizations (i.e. WWF, Wetland International) are also active in the area. To date, six sites in the Yellow Sea region have been declared as Ramsar sites of (according to the Ramsar convention for the conservation of wetlands of international importance); hunting prohibition zones have been established. But there is hope – one positive example that has already benefitted from recent efforts to protect the important stopover sites is the Black-faced spoonbill, which shows increasing numbers due to the combined efforts of local birdwatcher societies and site protection conventions.
As birds do not know of or care about borders between countries, conservation issues often require communication and coordination of action plans between different countries, a fact that very often complicates global actions and decisions being taken. How do China, Korea, Russia and Australia share their concern about the necessity to protect the migratory system in the Yellow Sea? According to Zhjun Ma, the interaction of the involved neighboring countries is working fine, and in this case between-country/political system communication do not seems to be a bottleneck preventing necessary action from being taken.

The issue of conservation on a more global scale: Many international conventions have clearly defined goals (i.e. no more loss in biodiversity after 2010). These conventions are all we currently have but do not mirror strong conventions, but rather reflect general guidelines – not legally binding and not including any penalty.

The following questions were raised and discussed subsequently, mainly questioning if publishing scientific results in international journals is really the best way in order to integrate these findings into management plans. What is its contribution to management plans in conservation? How much can scientific studies influence policy decisions, are they considered at all? Is there a common "missing link" in terms of communication, and what can be improved in integrating scientific study results into applied management plans? What are alternative and maybe much more efficient strategies to pass this knowledge to management consultancies and policy makers in order to optimally integrate the knowledge gained by scientific studies in conservation strategies. One suggestion in this context was, to make scientific results publically available and concentrate on web-based publication of the results, rather than publishing the results in peer reviewed journals, where many of the management agencies might not have access to. This strategy might provide a more efficient way of spreading newly gained information on a particular conservation concern, and thus enhance their implacability into conservation management concepts.

One hurdle that quite frequently prohibits scientific facts being communicated on a wider scale is the lack of plausible definite explanation and understanding of the current situation. In the scientific community it is key to separate opinions from facts and this paradigm might sometimes hamper preliminary findings or observed trends from being taken into account in future management plans. In this context the question was raised if we are running risk of underselling scientific results because we focus too much on the missing links and aim for sophisticated results on a high rather than basic level. One important definition pointed out here was that we as well as policy makers should be aware of their role: we as scientists do not make decision, but our role and responsibility is to adequately inform politicians to make their decisions based on the best of knowledge available. It is also the responsibility of the scientific community to approach and communicate with neighboring disciplines in order to allow for conclusions being drawn on an integrated scale. We have to work on improving connectivity, communication and integration between i.e. agricultural, climate and ecological research, which are all focusing on the same problem of e.g. climate change, but approaching the problem from different perspectives, focusing on various aspects. There was a clear call for the necessity of large scale models also integrating social systems.

The most important role of scientists and research results should be seen as catalysts, communicating findings and ideas – with all limitations of the data included and clearly considered in conclusions being drawn. Often communication of uncertainties may be equally important than communicating final facts – but we should also talk about what we know, also if it is only part of the whole story. It is important to limit the discussion to our area of expertise, it is not helpful to bundle everything together. In order to make our findings heard and considered in future management plans one key element is to constrain our objectives to the most powerful arguments. This will help preserve the key aspects not to be lost. In order to being heard it is important to focus on key arguments and explain why and what we are concerned about. As conservationists we have to be careful not to find tragedy in everything, but rather limit our efforts to highlighting key aspects with as strong arguments as possible.

Bundling efforts requires a clear picture of aims and focus. As we are living in a rapidly changing world, which often requires refined definitions. We are currently experiencing the highest rate of extinction and loss of biodiversity, which makes it especially important to be precise and define clear priorities. It is crucial to define the problem and agree on this – ideally between sub disciplines and managing bodies. Is it the migratory species or the ecological processes carried out by meta-populations that should be our major concern? We have to be precise in our terminology, i.e. extinction and alteration of migration are terms that are often mixed and used interchangeably, but both phenomena are not necessarily synonyms. As an example, the bison still exists as a species, though the migratory system of bisons changed dramatically.

One key step in this direction is to communicate our value system: where should conservation management plans focus on? Should we prioritize ecosystem services, i.e. species important to agricultural success (and: where are the most important ecological services provided)? As a consensus we agreed that the question "species versus processes" is one of the key management questions. We need any management system to integrate humans in conservation and combine conservation ecosystem services with conservation, which is economically beneficial at the same time. It is crucial to allocate the limited (financial) resources most efficiently – (where) are we currently going wrong in allocating resources?

Market values of any management plan are hard to predict and absolute values cannot be estimated, so during the discussion it was argued that the value of ecosystem services has to be integrated into our management systems. But if we want to focus on the "system of migration" – what ecosystem services are offered by migrating systems (other than salmon)? One possibility here might be an extended focus on ecotourism.

Not only economical and ecological values have to be taken into account, ethical emphasis is also needed in the debate. Where do we see possibilities and hope? What can be done starting now and in the future?

We are living in a constantly growing population with disproportional consumption and we all contribute to this human footprint – this is not "them", but "us".

But there is hope – right here! We are a highly international PhD student course with participants from more than 20 different countries – let us all take the issue of conservation and migration research home to our own countries, schools and local societies. It is on us to change our lifestyle. It is on us to educate and raise interest and awareness in conservation issue in the younger generation. We all can contribute.

Some references from a recent issue of the journal Endangered Species Research, which might be of interest to you as follow up reading after the Panel Discussion:

Robinson RA, Crick HQP, Learmonth JA, Maclean IMD, Thomas CD, Bairlein F, Forchhammer MC, Francis CM, Gill JA, Godley BJ, Harwood J, Hays GC, Huntley B, Hutson AM, Pierce GJ,

Rehfisch MM, Sims DW, Santos BM, Sparks TH, Stroud DA, Visser ME (2009) Travelling through a warming world: climate change and migratory species. ESR 7:87-99

Newson SE, Mendes S, Crick HQP, Dulvy N, Houghton JDR, Hays GC, Hutson AM, Macleod CD, Pierce GJ, Robinson RA (2009) Indicators of the impact of climate change on migratory species. ESR 7: 101-113.

Isaac JL (2009) Effects of climate change on life history: implications for extinction risk in mammals. ESR 7: 115-123.

MacLeod CD (2009) Global climate change, range changes and potential implications for the conservation of marine cetaceans: a review and synthesis. ESR 7: 135-136.

Hawkes LA, Broderick AC, Godfrey MH, Godley BJ (2009) Climate change and marine turtles. ESR 7: 137-154.

Harris G, Thirgood S, Hopcraft JGC, Cromsigt JPGM, Berger J (2009) Global decline in aggregated migrations of large terrestrial mammals. ESR 7: 55-76.

For more information please visit: www.canmove.ekol.lu.se/

Thanks to all participants for your valuable contributions!

Susanne Åkesson and Miriam Liedvogel

tisdag 13 oktober 2009

Time for some hands-on experience during the Ecology of Migration course

The second week of the course on Migration Ecology started off with lectures focussing on ecophysiology, the underlying genetics of migration, understanding evolution and patterns of migration, and population ecology. Lectures and theory form one important part of the course - but we also want to provide insight and practical training in methodological approaches and state-of-the-art technology used in ongoing experiments here at Lund University.

On Tuesday it was time for some hands on experience. Researchers from Lund University offered various projects and provided us with the possibility to learn about both scope and limitations of different techniques applied in the field of migration ecology. What is a "vortex wake" and what does it tell us? How can we understand kinematics of flight by analysing high-speed video sequences recorded in the wind tunnel? How do I attach a radio-transmitter to a Golden Plover in order to follow it using radio-telemetry? What techniques allow me to use genetic markers to understand population structure and connectivity? And how is it possible to bring migration into the lab in order to understand compass mechanisms and orientation systems of migratory birds under controlled conditions? What methods allow us to study energy metabolism, and how can a small bird assess its energy state and evaluate cost and benefit of staying up North over the winter or being better of my migrating towards warmer latitudes? What questions can I address using Tracking Radar, and how can I disentangle track, heading and wind direction in order to understand the recorded flight track? What is the differences between GPS and conventional tracking?

Those were only some of the questions that were addressed in the projects carried out on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, we started the day by raising and discussing some of these questions and sharing our experience gained during the various projects in smaller groups - and ended the day with a BBQ outside the department.

söndag 4 oktober 2009

Is Animal Migration Disappearing?

Last year David S. Wilkove and Martin Wikelski published an eye-opening paper in PLoS Biology entitled: Going, Going, Gone: Is animal migration disappearing? In the paper Wilkove and Wikelski discuss threats of migrating animals, highlighting problems as well as scientific and political challenges. I strongly suggest to read the paper.

On Thursday 8 Oct during the PhD student course on “Ecology of Animal Migration” we will have a number of lecturers presenting their view on conservation and animal migration/dispersal, from Lund University Prof. Henrik Smith (pollinating insects in the agricultural landscape), Dr. Brendan Godley, University of Exeter (worldwide view on seaturtles) and Prof. John Fryxell (large mammal migration in the Serengeti; Thursday seminar). In the afternoon there will be a Panel Discussion on the topic: Conservation and migration research: what can be done? Taking place 15.30-16.30 in the Blue Lecture Hall.

We welcome anyone interested to attend the lectures as well as to take part in the panel discussion, which will be held after the Thursday seminar (given by John Fryxell, “Large mammal migration in the Serengeti”)

You may download the paper by Wilkove and Wikelski here:


Very Welcome!

Susanne Åkesson

lördag 3 oktober 2009

Migration from various perspectives: watching, listening and simply being amazed

After many exciting talks and ample discussions on migration over the last couple of days, Friday it was time for some outdoor activities. For a course on the Ecology of Migration taking place during peak autumn migration, a visit to Falsterbo Bird Observatory is a must. Falsterbo is situated on the southwestern tip of Sweden, where migrants concentrate in large numbers during autumn migration. On Friday we eyewitnessed large flocks of Chaffinches, Siskins and Linnets leaving Sweden via Falsterbo on their migratory journey. We also saw numerous migrating raptors, mainly Sparrowhawks, Bussards and some Red Kites, and Karen Persson and Nils Kjellén told us about the ringing scheme and ongoing research carried out at the bird observatory

The afternoon lecture about migration and dispersal of small aquatic organism was given by Karin Rengefors, and the day ended with a poster-session, introducing research carried out in the department of Ecology.

Saturday was filled with a themed lecture block on Orientation and Navigation. Thomas Alerstam set the scene by introducing different compass mechanisms used by animals to orient, and set the pioneer discoveries in this field into today's perspective. Susanne Åkesson provided insight into different navigation principles with a focus on sea turtle and insect navigation, and Tim Guildford took us on a "Nils Holgersson" trip (on a slightly different species, though) and demonstrated pigeon navigation literally from the bird's eye view – amazing what current technology and clever experimental design allows us to investigate! Rachel Muheim told us how animals from diverse groups use information from the Earth's magnetic field for a variety of different behaviours, and summarised the state-of-the-art of ongoing research trying to understand how animals are able perceive the Earth's magnetic field in the first place. In the final session Marie Dacke explained how small creatures such as spiders and insects with brains weighing less than a milligram navigate effectively, and how the South African dung beetle manages to use an optical polarisation compass at night time.

torsdag 1 oktober 2009

Course day 3: Ecology of Animal Migration - Locomotion

The third day of the graduate student course on Ecology of Animal Migration covered the topic Locomotion. Three lectures were given by first Prof. Colin Pennycuick at Bristol University, and then Anders Hedenström and Florian Muijres from Lund. Colin Pennycuick in a brilliant lecture covered the topic on how to calculate flight ranges in birds and various other parameters important for bird flight using GPS tracks from three species of geese and some examples from long-distance migrating waders. Thereafter, Anders gave an insightful review of the wind tunnel work in Lund and Florian ended the morning with an elegant exersise in understanding Reynolds numbers by comparing different animal taxa. The Lund wind tunnel was demonstrated, including a flying bird, and thereafter the course participants dived into measuring the correct parameters of bird wings and bodies to be inserted in the CP "Flight 1.21 -program".

Flight 1.21 by Colin Pennycuick can be downloaded at this link: http://www.bio.bris.ac.uk/people/staff.cfm?key=95

Tomorrow there will be an excursion to Falsterbo Bird Observatory with research presentations by Nils Kjellén and Karin Persson. Back in Lund Karin Rengefors will give a lecture on dispersal in small organisms and therafter there will be a Poster Session/Pub in the Entrance Hall.
An exciting day!// Susanne

torsdag 24 september 2009

Graduate student course on Ecology of Animal Migration starting 29 September

Tuesday 29 September 42 PhD students arrive to Lund for a 12-day course on Ecology of Animal Migration organized by CAnMove.

The course is given for the fifth time, and never before has there been so many students (42) participating and from so many countries (23!). (Unfortunately, we did have to close the course for more participants.) New Zeeland is the location furthest away, this year, but we do also have participants from China for the first time, and from Nigeria, Hungary, Russia and Slovakia. I am happy to Welcome You All as well as the invited lecturers, who will also arrive to Lund for different parts of the course. The course program is available at the CAnMove web site, and we also have produced an abstract booklet, which can be downloaded. I am very happy we have been able to convince so many excellent lecturers to come to the course (several who has decided to return year after year – thank you very much for again coming to Lund!), and I am very much looking forward also to hear all the presentations by the participants.

I am sure this will be a spectacular event, and I hereby invite anyone interested to listen to the talks during the course to attend lectures and oral presentations by the participants. I also would like to stress the fact that we do have a high number of students attending different courses during this time of the year in the Ecology Building. It is going to be somewhat crowded in the entrance, at the café and in lecture halls. I hope it will all work out fine, but we all need to be understanding and helpful.

To lecturers, participants and to interested audience – Very Welcome to the 5th Migration Course in Lund, now organized by CAnMove starting 29 September!

Scientists have much to gain from communication

Recently, Vetenskap & Allmänhet, IVA, KVA, KSLA and the Swedish Research Council organized an ODE seminar on Science Communication. Result of discussions among the ca 100 participating scientists: scientists have much to gain by communicating their results with the society. You may read more here (in Swedish):



The New CAnMove logo is here!

Thanks to the fantastic work by Kate Spencer (Lizardfish Studios), an excellent nature illustrator and artist located at Pacific Grove in California, we have now a logo for the Centre of Animal Movement Research at Lund University. You will find more information about Kate and her work at: http://www.katespencer.com/

The logo will soon be possible to download at the CAnMove home page.

Thanks Kate for your excellent work!

Linnea is migrating south

The lesser black-backed gull, named Linnea, fitted with a satellite transmitter at Stora Karlsö earlier this season has started the migration south to the wintering quarters in Africa. The migration was initiated from a site northeast of the Island of Gotland near Finland, and suggested a very interesting northeast movement before the fast migration flight to the south along the eastern flyway across Europe and the Mediterranean was initiated. One may speculate that the marine feeding lesser black-backed gull might have followed some prey species (sprat?) to fuel before the migration was initiated. We hope that further tracking studies during the coming years will reveal whether this is a natural behaviour of the lesser black-backed gulls breeding at Stora Karlsö or if it this was the result of an exploitation of a occasional nature. Now first we are waiting for Karla to also start her migration. The destination of the two birds might however be completely different, and their plumage characteristics at capture suggested slightly different colour, with Linnea having the darkest back. More and updated information on Linneas movements are available at: http://www.seaturtle.org/

tisdag 22 september 2009

Mobile phones as new tools for efficient field data collection

Many of us who are affiliated with CAnMove work in the field with notebooks, binoculars and electronic equipment such as GPS. Typically, in a field study, GPS-positions (coordinates) are taken, and these coordinates are written down in a notebook alongside with ecological information, morphological information, behavioural information etc. This is the typical working scheme of those who work with (say) monitoring of breeding birds, population studies of nestbox-breeding birds or those performing mark-recapture studies on small mammals or insects. Can this type of data collection be made more efficient in the future?

Probably, according to a new methods-paper published in the open-source journal PLoS ONE. The authors of this study were interested in using so-called "smartphones" to more efficiently collect epidemiological data over a large geographical area, to understand the rate of spread of diseases. They used an open-source software that is available for mobile phones called EpiCollect and a spatial software web application that is also open source and which is located at http://www.spatialepidemiology.net/.

This new system enables scientists (and laymen who would like to volonteer as well, so-called "citizen scientists") to collect data directly in the field, alongside with geographic positions, and quickly download it to a database on the web, as a safe and immediate backup of the files. Data collected by multiple field workers can thus be submitted by phone, together with GPS data, to a common web database and can be displayed and analysed, along with previously collected data, using Google Maps (or Google Earth). You can also read more about this new methods-study in this article provided by BBC.

This system, and similar new high-throughput data-collection systems is something that could also be quite interesting also for us in CAnMove and for other field ecologists and field evolutonary biologists, outside the area of epidemiology (which was the original motivation for the study above). We have recently hired two new technical engineers, Johan Bäckman and Arne Andersson, who will hopefully soon start to look more in to these kind of systems, or even more efficient ones for field data collections. A few years ago, there were some handheld computers on the market ("Palm Pilots") that were used by some field ecologists, but their main disadvantage was that they could not be immediately backed up in the field. With new mobile phones that can be used as efficient data-collecting devices, we might soon enter a new revolutionary era in field work that will make us faster and more efficient in our studies.

tisdag 15 september 2009

More on climate change and the consequences of range expansions in damselflies

Here is a follow-up post on that theme, briefly discussing one of our most recently published articles that is now out in Evolution. The abstract for that article can be found here, but since this journal is not yet open source (unfortunately) you cannot access the entire article. If you are interested in a pre-print or reprint, please contact me or Maren Wellenreuther(maren.wellenreuther@zooekol.lu.se).

This study was a collaborative project together with our colleague Katja Tynkkynen at University of Jyväskylä, and the experiments were performed in the summer of 2008. The basic idéa was to investigate the potential consequences of the future range expansion in the calopterygid damselfly C. splendens ("CS" see picture on map above!), which is soon expected to move north in to the allopatric zone in Northern Scandinavia of its close relative C. virgo ("CV"; see picture above). These two morphologically similar congeneric damselflies are sympatric over the major part of Europe, and it is only in the northern areas that C. virgo occurs alone (i. e., allopatry), and where C. splendens does not yet occur (see map above).

However, things might change in the future: a recent study have revealed that C. splendens and many other damselfly and dragonfly species are currently expanding northwards in response to increasing temperatures and ongoing climate change. Increasing temperatures are particularly affecting ectothermic animals like damselflies and other insects, which respond very rapidly to the ongoing climate change in Europe and elsewhere in the northern Hemisphere. Thus, we would soon expect that dispersing individual C. splendens on the move from the south will encounter the isolated C. virgo populations in the north. As usual, the issue of "animal movement" is the key to many fascinating biological phenomena!

What will happen when the more southern species C. splendens expands in to the zone where "naive" C. virgo populations have been isolated for quite long time? Have these northern allopatric C. virgo populations lost their species recognition ability entirely, i. e. do they not discriminate against heterospecifics anymore? This would be expected, since (per definition) there cannot be any selection for species recognition in the absence of heterospecifics. Alternatively, since these northern C. virgo populations are most likely derived from southern populations that expanded northwards after the last Ice Age, they might still have a genetic evolutionary "memory" and discriminate against heterospecifics, that is based on their past evolutionary interactions with C. splendens when they co-occurred in the south.

We investigated this by experimentally simulating range expansion ourselves: we took C. splendens females from the sympatric zone in southern Finland and transported them to northern Finland where they were presented to the local C. virgo males. We then recorded the local male's reaction to this "novel" female phenotype and compared with the responses of C. virgo males in the sympatric zone. It turned out, rather surprisingly, that northern C. virgo males from the allopatric zone did actually show some discrimination against heterospecific C. splendens females, although the level of mate discrimination was weaker than among C. virgo males from the sympatric zone in the south. Thus, mate recognition against heterospecifics had been lost, although not entirely so. This will have some consequences for what to expect following range expansions in these and other insect species.

One potential risk of range expansions following climate change are changed interspecific interactions, which can lead to local extinctions, e. g. through hybridizations and/or heterospecific matings. This risk might not be as great as one might fear in this damselfly species pair, since obviously some level of mate recognition and ability to discriminate against heterospecifics is still there. The interesting remaining question is of course: how long will a maladaptive (or at least neutral) trait that is no longer maintained by selection persist, and why do these C. virgo males still discriminate against heterospecific females long after they run any risk of meeting them?


Wellenreuther M, Tynkkynen K, Svensson EI.

Prolonged periods of allopatry might result in loss of the ability to discriminate against other formerly sympatric species, and can lead to heterospecific matings and hybridization upon secondary contact. Loss of premating isolation during prolonged allopatry can operate in the opposite direction of reinforcement, but has until now been little explored. We investigated how premating isolation between two closely related damselfly species, Calopteryx splendens and C. virgo, might be affected by the expected future northward range expansion of C. splendens into the allopatric zone of C. virgo in northern Scandinavia. We simulated the expected secondary contact by presenting C. splendens females to C. virgo males in the northern allopatric populations in Finland. Premating isolation towards C. splendens in northern allopatric populations was compared to sympatric populations in southern Finland and southern Sweden. Male courtship responses of C. virgo towards conspecific females showed limited geographic variation, however, courtship attempts towards heterospecific C. splendens females increased significantly from sympatry to allopatry. Our results suggest that allopatric C. virgo males have partly lost their ability to discriminate against heterospecific females. Reduced premating isolation in allopatry might lead to increased heterospecific matings between taxa that are currently expanding and shifting their ranges in response to climate change.

Evolution. 2009 Aug 6. [Epub ahead of print]

måndag 14 september 2009

Extra CAnMove seminar 16 Sept at 11.00h in Communis

Hi All,

Extra CAnMove seminar:

Masters student Tom Evans from York University will present his project on: The foraging behavior of common guillemots at Stora Karlsö.

Tom has used new technology to track the foraging movements with GPS-loggers and monitored the diving behavior with TDRs (time-depth-recorders) in common guillemots during breeding season 2009 at Stora Karlsö. The work has been done at the newly installed artificial ledge and is a collaboration with CAnMove (S. Åkesson) and Stockholm University and Stockholm Recilience Centre (Olof Olsson) and the Baltic Seabird Group (Jonas Sundberg).

The seminar will be given 16 September 11.00-12.00h in Communis (3rd floor).

You are All very Welcome!

Susanne Åkesson

torsdag 27 augusti 2009

Bat Migration in the Baltic Area

The knowledge about bat migration still lags behind that of birds, while there appears to be an increasing research interest in bat migration as illustrated by the recent conference on bat migration in Berlin 16-18 January 2009. Recent advances in methodologies of tracking small animals may change this, but there are still hurdles to overcome in the study of bat migration. Around the Baltic Sea there have been different efforts to study bat migration, and this Symposium aims at bringing together people interested in bat migration to explore the current state of knowledge and possibly to initiate a concerted effort in the near future. At the symposium topics such as migration theory, case studies and methodology will be covered. What are the challenging questions? How can they be addressed? How can we benefit from collaboration around the Baltic Sea?

Anyone interested in participating are welcome to do so in this 3 day symposium, to be held at the Ecology Building, Lund University 12-14 November, 2009. Through a grant from the Hans Kristiansson fund the travel and accommodation costs, including a symposium dinner, can be covered for a limited number of participants. Please register by sending an email to: anders.hedenstrom@teorekol.lu.se , with an estimated cost for your participation. The funding will be divided so that participants from as many countries as possible can join the symposium.

The program will consist of talks, demonstration of methods, and round-table discussion. In case the slots for oral presentations become exhausted, there will be a possibility to present posters.

Looking forward to receiving your registrations, not later than 30 September.

Anders Hedenström , Centre for Animal Movement Research (CAnMove), Lund University

tisdag 25 augusti 2009

Symposium on migration at SICB meeting in Seattle, 3-7 January 2010

Dear All,

Melissa Bowlin currently a Postdoc in Lund has asked me to post an announcement for a coming sumposion, Integrative Migration Biology, which will be held at the 2010 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) meeting, Jan. 3-7, in Seattle, WA. You may submit an abstract and atted the meeting, which I believe will be of great interest to many in CAnMove.
Please find more information below:

Call for abstracts/symposium announcement - Integrative Migration Biology.
Deadline 11 September.

We are sending out a call for abstracts to present in a session complementing our symposium, Integrative Migration Biology, which will be held at the 2010 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) meeting, Jan. 3-7, in Seattle, WA. We would especially like to extend this invitation to students and post-docs, but welcome abstracts from all researchers currently studying animal migration. As a student or post-doc, this would give you a wonderful opportunity to interact with some of the top researchers in the field of animal migration. We welcome submissions for both contributed papers and posters, and encourage students to apply for SICB’s Charlotte Mangum Student Support Program. Please check out the SICB meeting page at http://www.sicb.org/meetings/2010/index.php3 for more information.

Billions of animals migrate each year, and they can have enormous effects on the communities and ecosystems they inhabit. We wish to bring together researchers from all over the world who are attempting to integrate ecology, evolution, behavior, physiology, and theory in order to understand the phenomenon of migration. In order to migrate, organisms themselves must integrate many aspects of behavior, physiology, genetics, and morphology. Migration is therefore an excellent system in which to study adaptation and the interplay between various ecological and evolutionary levels of analysis. Traditionally, however, researchers have tended to focus on one narrow aspect of migratory behavior to the exclusion of all else. More recently, biologists have begun to examine multiple aspects of migration in order to better understand this important life history strategy. The primary goal of this symposium is to bring these researchers together with students and post-docs who are just staring their research programs in order to foster discussion and collaboration and further the development of integrative migration biology research.

This symposium and the complementary session(s) are designed to provide a venue for researchers from around the globe to discuss the past, present, and future of migration research. The list of symposium speakers and preliminary titles include:

1. Melissa Bowlin (Lund University), Isabelle-Anne Bisson (Princeton University), & Martin Wikelski (Max Planck Institute for Ornithology). “Integrative migration biology: Past, present, and an exciting future.”

2. Marilyn Ramenofsky (University of California Davis). “Endocrine and metabolic parameters coincide with daily fueling and flight cycles of captive migrants.”

3. Anders Hedenström (Lund University). “Testing migration theory: the utility of inegrative approaches using field experiments and wind tunnels.”

4. Chris Guglielmo (University of Western Ontario). TBA

5. Susanne Åkesson (Lund University). “Endogenous migration programs, migratory fattening and orientation in passerine birds.”

6. Kasper Thorup (University of Copenhagen). “Understanding the migratory orientation program in birds: extending laboratory studies to studying free-flying migrants in a natural setting.”

7. Tom Kunz (Boston University). TBA

8. Nir Sapir (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem). “The effect of weather on migrating bee-eaters studied by radio-telemetry and numeric atmospheric model.”

9. Judy Shamoun-Baranes (Amsterdam University). “Integrating measurements and models to study the influence of weather on migration.”

10. Peter Marra (Migratory Bird Center, Smithsonian Institution). “Seasonal interactions and carry-over effects – understanding migration in the context of the annual cycle.”

11. David Wilcove (Princeton University). TBA

Additional information will be posted on our symposium website, which can be found here: http://sicb.org/meetings/2010/symposia/index.php3 once we have finalized some additional details. If you have questions about the symposium or the meeting, please contact us at melissabowlin at gmail dot com or ibisson at princeton dot edu.

Funding for this symposium was provided by MIGRATE, an NSF-funded Research Coordination Network, and SICB.

Note: in order to ensure that your talk or poster will be placed in the correct session, be sure to put our symposium, ‘Integrative Migration Biology’ into the field following the statement, “I would like to be in a session complementing a regular symposium” on the abstract submission form on SICB’s meeting webpage.
We hope to see you in Seattle!