African bird migration ecology

Migratory birds are among the most threatened species on earth as a consequence of habitat degradation and fragmentation, and climate change. The timing of arrival on breeding territories and over-wintering grounds seems to be a key determinant of reproductive success, survivorship, and fitness; and this migratory phenology is likely to be affected by global climate change. To date, very few research initiatives have addressed the question of how climate change will affect population dynamics and extinction risk of migratory birds in arid tropical ecosystems, where the effects of climate change are most noticeable.

This project aims to take advantage of state-of-the-art GPS-tracking technology, to understand the migratory ecology of a widespread intra-African migratory raptor, the Wahlberg’s Eagle. We track migratory Wahlberg’s Eagles across the African range (Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia), to examine relationships between migration timing and speed and age/sex categories, rainfall, recruitment, survival, and breeding success.

Activities in 2019/2020

  • Capturing and GPS-tagging 20 Wahlberg’s Eagles across the range to investigate their trans-African migratory ecology.
  • Analysing the movement and migratory ecology of Wahlberg’s Eagles in relation to climatic and environmental variables; identifying important breeding, foraging, stopover and passage habitats; identifying major threats.