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Migratory Birds - Connecting Continents

This article is part of a series highlighting issues from the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group’s landmark Arctic Biodiversity Assessment. This week focuses on migratory birds.

Migratory birds link Arctic areas to many other parts of the globe. Migratory birds visit the Arctic to breed or feed intensively during the summer, both on land and in the sea, and a high proportion of these species then migrate out of the Arctic entirely over the course of a year. Many, including the red knot, whose migration patterns are illustrated here, spend more than half the year outside the Arctic, visiting practically every other part of the world. [Click here to view or download the full-size map.]

Outside the Arctic, habitat loss and degradation pose a serious threat to Arctic migratory species. This is true especially for many waterfowl and shorebirds, for which losses of staging and wintering habitat are occurring at an alarming rate, especially in East Asia around the Yellow Sea, but also in other parts of the world. Loss of coastal and intertidal habitat can be expected to increase considerably with climate-induced sea level rise. Other stressors include oil spills, fishing, hunting, agricultural intensification and pesticides. Conservation actions include cooperation between Arctic and non-Arctic states to address threats to staging and wintering grounds, conservation of wetlands, overhunting and reducing the risk of oil spills. For a complete list of conservation actions, see the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment Synthesis report, page 107.

Click here to read more from the “Birds” chapter in the ABA.

Click here to learn more about the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative.

For more biodiversity graphics, please visit the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service:

Photo caption: The red knot covers much of the world in its annual migration. For the full-size graphic, see the link in the article.