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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2014, Article ID 245849, 15 pages
Research Article

Impact of Environmental Changes on Migratory Bird Survival

Faculty of Aerospace Engineering & Autonomous Systems Program, Technion, 32000 Haifa, Israel

Received 29 July 2013; Revised 10 November 2013; Accepted 9 December 2013; Published 19 February 2014

Academic Editor: Daniel Rubenstein

Copyright © 2014 Sabine Stöcker-Segre and Daniel Weihs. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We present a mathematical model that studies and simulates the interconnection between energetic and ecological aspects of bird migration. By comparing model predictions with experimental data, we show that it can be used to assess the impact of changing environmental conditions in breeding, wintering, and stop-over sites on migratory success. We relate in particular to the European white stork (Ciconia ciconia) and its Eastern migration route and discuss questions concerning the timing, stopover, and feeding behavior en route. Opinions concerning the importance of resource availability and resource quality en route are divided. Whereas some studies have shown that storks gain weight in the wintering site, but almost do not feed en route, others stress the importance of the quality of stop-over locations. We address these questions and simulate the development of stork populations for changing environmental conditions. We demonstrate that resource availability and competition for breeding sites are crucial factors determining the timing of spring migration and the length of stop-over periods. Analyzing the robustness of migration strategies with respect to changing environmental conditions, we show that birds will shorten their stay in stop-over places of poor resource availability rather than prolonging it in the attempt to gain time for accumulating fat reserves.