Migration, Interrupted: Nature’s Rhythms at Risk

Carl Zimmer in The New York Times:

Migr_190 The world is etched with invisible paths, the routes taken each year by uncountable swarms of geese, elk and salmon, of dragonflies, zebras and leatherback turtles. But in his new book “No Way Home,” David Wilcove, a Princeton biologist, warns that “the phenomenon of migration is disappearing around the world.” Despite their huge numbers, migratory species are particularly vulnerable to hunting, the destruction of wild habitat and climate change. Humans have already eradicated some of the world’s greatest migrations, and many others are now dwindling away. While many conservation biologists have observed the decline of individual migrations, Dr. Wilcove’s book combines them into an alarming synthesis. He argues that it is not just individual species that we should be conserving — we also need to protect the migratory way of life.

As a scientist, Dr. Wilcove finds the disappearance of the world’s migrations particularly heartbreaking because there is so much left for him and his colleagues to learn. What are the cues that send animals on their journeys? How do they navigate vast distances to places they have never been? How do some species travel for days without eating a speck of food?

More here.