The 14th Pan-African Ornithological Congress took place in Dakar, Senegal in October. There was inevitably a lot of scientific interest and discussion about migratory landbirds and the MLSG was involved in a lot of this.
Each year billions of birds migrate between their breeding sites in Europe and non-breeding sites in Africa. The migratory life-style allows them to make optimal use of seasonal changes in food. But how flexible is this migratory life-style when environments are rapidly changing? Can they change their timing and movement decisions to keep track of advancements in peak-food availability during breeding as a result of climate warming?
Migratory species depend on several habitats - often separated in space and time - to complete their annual cycle. Consequently they are especially vulnerable to the impacts of habitat loss. Long term population declines of Afro-Palearctic migratory birds have been linked with loss of suitable breeding habitat and conditions on the non-breeding wintering grounds, but relatively little is known about the winter ecology and its influence on migrants’ overall ecology.