Remote sensing tools have facilitated a new understanding of animal migration by revealing the movements of billions of individuals across the globe. Yet despite their scale, migratory movements are often irregular and strongly influenced by a suite of environmental drivers. This complexity hampers monitoring efforts and makes predicting migration at the assemblage level a grand challenge. We developed a bird migration forecast system at a continental scale by leveraging two decades years of spring radar observations to identify associations between atmospheric conditions and bird migration intensity. Our model accurately forecasts migration events up to 7 days in advance, which may reduce collisions with buildings, airplanes, and wind turbines, inform a variety of monitoring efforts, and engage the public.
Benjamin Van Doren is a PhD student and Marshall Scholar at the University of Oxford, working under Professor Ben Sheldon and Dr. Sonya Clegg.