Migration is a widespread phenomenon among many taxa. This complex behaviour enables animals to exploit many temporally productive and spatially discrete habitats to accrue various fitness benefits (e.g. growth, reproduction, predator avoidance). Human activities and global environmental change represent potential threats to migrating animals (from individuals to species), and research is underway to understand mechanisms that control migration and how migration responds to modern challenges. Focusing on behavioural and physiological aspects of migration can help to provide better understanding, management and conservation of migratory populations. Here, we highlight different physiological, behavioural and biomechanical aspects of animal migration that will help us to understand how migratory animals interact with current and future anthropogenic threats. We are in the early stages of a changing planet, and our understanding of how physiology is linked to the persistence of migratory animals is still developing; therefore, we regard the following questions as being central to the conservation physiology of animal migrations. Will climate change influence the energetic costs of migration? Will shifting temperatures change the annual clocks of migrating animals? Will anthropogenic influences have an effect on orientation during migration? Will increased anthropogenic alteration of migration stopover sites/migration corridors affect the stress physiology of migrating animals? Can physiological knowledge be used to identify strategies for facilitating the movement of animals? Our synthesis reveals that given the inherent challenges of migration, additional stressors derived from altered environments (e.g. climate change, physical habitat alteration, light pollution) or interaction with human infrastructure (e.g. wind or hydrokinetic turbines, dams) or activities (e.g. fisheries) could lead to long-term changes to migratory phenotypes. However, uncertainty remains because of the complexity of biological systems, the inherently dynamic nature of the environment and the scale at which many migrations occur and associated threats operate, necessitating improved integration of physiological approaches to the conservation of migratory animals.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Behaviour, Energetics, Human impacts, Mechanism, Movement
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1093/conphys/cov072
Journal Conservation Physiology
Citation
Lennox, R.J. (Robert J.), Chapman, J.M. (Jacqueline M.), Souliere, C.M. (Christopher M.), Tudorache, C. (Christian), Wikelski, M. (Martin), Metcalfe, J.D. (Julian D.), & Cooke, S.J. (2016). Conservation physiology of animal migration. Conservation Physiology, 4(1). doi:10.1093/conphys/cov072