Global decline in aggregated migrations of large terrestrial mammals

Harris, G., Thirgood, S., Hopcraft, J.G.C. , Cromsight, J.P.G.M. and Berger, J. (2009) Global decline in aggregated migrations of large terrestrial mammals. Endangered Species Research, 7(1), pp. 55-76. (doi: 10.3354/esr00173)

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Abstract

Knowledge of mammal migrations is low, and human impacts on migrations high. This jeopardizes efforts to conserve terrestrial migrations. To aid the conservation of these migrations, we synthesized information worldwide, describing 24 large-bodied ungulates that migrate in aggregations. This synthesis includes maps of extinct and extant migrations, numbers of migrants, summaries of ecological drivers and threats migrants confront. As data are often lacking, we outlined steps for science to address and inform conservation actions. We evaluated migrants against this framework, and reported their status. Mass migrations for 6 species are extinct or unknown. Most remaining migrants (n = 9) occur from 6 locations in Africa, with Eurasia and North America containing 6 and 4 remaining mass migrants, respectively (with caribou/reindeer Rangifer tarandus occurring in both regions). All migrants declined in abundance, except wildebeest and other migrants in the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem (SME), white-eared kob and tiang in Sudan, and some caribou populations. Protected areas only contain migrations for 5 species in the SME, chiru on the Tibetan Plateau, and some caribou populations in North America. Most mass migrants track the seasonal and shifting patterns of greening vegetation over expanses of savannahs, steppes, and grasslands. Principal threats include overhunting and habitat loss from livestock, agriculture, and fencing that excludes animals from forage or water. Conservation science overlooks numerous migrations, so many have already disappeared and continue to do so. Key principles for conserving migrants, exemplified by the SME and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), include securing seasonal ranges, resource protection, government support and minimizing fences. This review forms a baseline for initiating conservation action for many ungulate migrations needing attention.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hopcraft, Dr Grant
Authors: Harris, G., Thirgood, S., Hopcraft, J.G.C., Cromsight, J.P.G.M., and Berger, J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Endangered Species Research
Publisher:Inter Research
ISSN:1863-5407
ISSN (Online):1613-4796

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