© Marcel Burkhardt
Bauer, S. & B. J. Hoye (2014)
Migratory animals couple biodiversity and ecosystem functioning worldwide.
Science 344: 1242552-1–8
Animal migrations span the globe, involving immense numbers of individuals from a wide range of taxa. Migrants transport nutrients, energy, and other organisms as they forage and are preyed upon throughout their journeys. These highly predictable, pulsed movements across large spatial scales render migration a potentially powerful yet underappreciated dimension of biodiversity that is intimately embedded within resident communities. We review examples from across the animal kingdom to distill fundamental processes by which migratory animals influence communities and ecosystems, demonstrating that they can uniquely alter energy flow, food-web topology and stability, trophic cascades, and the structure of metacommunities. Given the potential for migration to alter ecological networks worldwide, we suggest an integrative framework through which community dynamics and ecosystem functioning may explicitly consider animal migrations.