Skip to main content

Box 2 Thematic research areas and specific research questions that are important to the emerging field of population-level movement ecology

From: Estimating the movements of terrestrial animal populations using broad-scale occurrence data

Example research categories and question types  
Research Theme 1: Quantify population-level patterns of movement  
1. How does the geographic center of a population change seasonally and through time? What is the distance covered, rate of temporal change or speed, directionality, and intra- and inter-annual variation? What is the timing of migration and how does the distribution of a population change during migration?
2. How does the location of range boundaries or population clusters within a species’ range, change seasonally and through time?
3. How does the population’s movement compare to other populations or species?
Research Theme 2: Assess how species traits influence population-level movement  
4. How is population movement constrained or facilitated by average behavioral, physiological, or morphological traits of the species?
5. For migratory species, how do migration strategies (e.g., partial, full, differential, irruptive), migration distance, morphology (e.g., body mass), or behavior (e.g., diet) impact movements?
6. To what extent are observed differences among species explained by their traits?
Research Theme 3: Study how population-level movements correlate with external factors  
7. Which external factors (ecological, environmental, geographic, or anthropogenic) correlate with population-level movement? How and where do populations move in relation to these external factors?
8. What are the most relevant spatial and temporal scales for biotic or abiotic interactions to impact movement?
9. Can we develop empirical mechanistic models of population-level movement based on the observed occurrencees and external factors?
Research Theme 4: Connect movement patterns with conservation or management schema  
10. How does the population’s movement or the movement of it’s range center or edges contribute to or change biodiversity patterns?
11. What environmental or landscape factors are needed to maintain or improve population movement efficiency or to reduce risk during movement? How are the consequences of global change (climate change, land-use change, and environmental pollution) affecting, or forecasted to affect, population-level movements?
12. Do movement trends and associations with environmental drivers suggest changes to location or range that could help guide priority concern or management strategies? Are there natural or anthropogenic barriers to movement that might be important when considering conservation under changing climate, where species may seek to move to colder areas at higher latitudes or elevations?
  1. These categories originate from the new population-level movement framework proposed here, and the constraints that limit certain types of analyses when individuals identities cannot be retained