Migration is a common strategy used by birds that breed in seasonal environments. Selection for greater migration efficiency is likely to be stronger for terrestrial species whose migration strategies require non-stop transoceanic crossings. If multiple species use the same transoceanic flyway, then we expect the migration strategies of these species to converge geographically towards the most optimal solution. We test this by examining population-level migration trajectories within the Western Hemisphere for 118 migratory species using occurrence information from eBird. Geographical convergence of migration strategies was evident within specific terrestrial regions where geomorphological features such as mountains or isthmuses constrained overland migration. Convergence was also evident for transoceanic migrants that crossed the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean. Here, annual population-level movements were characterized by clockwise looped trajectories, which resulted in faster but more circuitous journeys in the spring and more direct journeys in the autumn. These findings suggest that the unique constraints and requirements associated with transoceanic migration have promoted the spatial convergence of migration strategies. The combination of seasonal atmospheric and environmental conditions that has facilitated the use of similar broad-scale migration strategies may be especially prone to disruption under climate and land-use change.
- Received October 27, 2015.
- Accepted December 15, 2015.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.