As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 6 March 2020

Prehistoric migration could hint at how birds will handle climate change

New simulations place the seasonal phenomenon around the last ice age.

By Molly GlickFebruary 21, 2020

Avian migration may date back way further than previously predicted. Scientists used to think that birds wouldn’t wing across a perpetually frostbitten Earth, so they set the timeline of the biannual treks at around 20,000 years ago, after the last ice age.

But a new model-based study contradicts that idea and suggests that certain species may have in fact travelled widely amid global glacial conditions. While the findings don’t spell out exactly when birds began their seasonal flights, they could deepen our understanding of the large-scale migration cycles.

Unlike previous migration models, the researchers behind the paper, recently published in Nature Communications, based their simulations on how birds optimize energy on the move. By pairing that info with prehistoric climate and vegetation data, they then simulated travel patterns to and from latitudes with seasonal resource troves over the past 50,000 years. The system even successfully predicted some current species distributions, including the diversity of year-round denizens in the tropics.

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