Protected areas and global conservation of migratory birds

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Science  04 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6265, pp. 1255-1258
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac9180

Not enough protection for migrating birds

Animals that migrate pass through a varying number of regions. Each of these regions contributes to a different component of their life cycles. Runge et al. looked at the degree of protection migratory birds receive, globally, across their breeding and wintering ranges. A remarkably low percentage of migratory birds receive adequate protection across their entire ranges. Given that over half the world's migratory bird populations are declining, these results emphasize the urgency with which we must act to protect birds across their entire migratory cycle.

Science, this issue p. 1255


Migratory species depend on a suite of interconnected sites. Threats to unprotected links in these chains of sites are driving rapid population declines of migrants around the world, yet the extent to which different parts of the annual cycle are protected remains unknown. We show that just 9% of 1451 migratory birds are adequately covered by protected areas across all stages of their annual cycle, in comparison with 45% of nonmigratory birds. This discrepancy is driven by protected area placement that does not cover the full annual cycle of migratory species, indicating that global efforts toward coordinated conservation planning for migrants are yet to bear fruit. Better-targeted investment and enhanced coordination among countries are needed to conserve migratory species throughout their migratory cycle.

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