Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 13

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Around the world, thousands of migratory animals
travel hundreds or even thousands of miles each year.
The journey of migratory animals is more important
than their destination. Scientists use the endangered
Kirtland's warblers to show how connecting all
migration's points can chart a way to sustainability.
In the journal Elementa: Science of the
Anthropocene, Michigan State University (MSU)
researchers take a broad, holistic look at Kirtland's
warblers' migration between the jack pine forests
of Michigan and the Bahamas to get a better
understanding of what sort of needs the songbirds
have along the way, and what kind of ecological and
socioeconomic impacts their annual distant movement
have across the world.
"As with pretty much all environmental research,
it's just not enough to understand one place or one
point in time, because our world is telecoupled -
socioeconomically and environmentally connected over
distances," says Jianguo "Jack" Liu, Rachel Carson
Chair in Sustainability at MSU and director of the Center
for Systems Integration and Sustainability. "It also isn't
enough to just understand the nature in question,
because people are so much a part of the problem -
and the solutions."
The Kirtland's warblers' fates are tied closely to their
specific habitats - they spend their breeding season
primarily in jack pine forests of Michigan, and came
close to extinction in the 1950s as human activity wiped
out many of those forests and parasitic cowbirds further
reduced the warblers' population.
Kirtland's warblers are conservation-reliant,
meaning they survive because humans actively make
accommodations to them, and human activities also
have compromised their ability to survive. That, the

authors say, makes understanding every stop of their
migration crucial, and makes the telecoupling framework
- a research method that reflects the interactions of all
points of that journey.
The telecoupling framework allowed researchers to
consider simultaneously their breeding sites, wintering
sites, stopover sites, as well as various policies that
protect the birds, tourism activities and changing use of
land that have fragmented or damaged their habitat, as
well as conservation activity that has improved their lot.
This holistic view is important, Liu says, because
otherwise efforts to save the Kirtland's warblers in one
area can be rendered less effective if the birds migrate
to another area that can't sustain them. Developing this
type of understanding can apply far beyond the warblers
and make conservation decisions more efficient for other
migratory animals and insects like monarch butterflies.
Using this method also identifies unknowns that
demand further study, the authors say. For instance,
since the birds spend five months migrating, their
stop-over sites are as important to understand as their
breeding and wintering bases. Yet little is known about
the ongoing suitability of their travel stops, particularly
how changing climate may affect those areas between
Michigan and the Bahamas and if changes in land use
- especially areas converted from forest to farmland -
affect the birds' survival chances.
They also point out the need to know if there are
opportunities for people along the bird's migratory path
to communicate with each other, joining in their shared
concern for the songbirds.
Funding was provided by the National Science
Foundation and Michigan AgBioResearch.
Source: Michigan State University

Fall 2017 * WOODLAND 13


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodlands - Fall 2017

Tools and Resources
Forests and Families
A Legacy to Keep
From Forests to Fermentation
Feathering a Forested Nest
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - intro
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover1
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover2
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 3
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Overstory
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 5
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 6
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 7
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 8
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 9
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 10
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 11
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 12
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 13
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 14
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 15
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 16
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 17
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Tools and Resources
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 19
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Forests and Families
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 21
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 22
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 23
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - A Legacy to Keep
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 25
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 26
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 27
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 28
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 29
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - From Forests to Fermentation
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 31
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 32
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 33
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Feathering a Forested Nest
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 35
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 36
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 37
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 38
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover3
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover4