UCL Division of Biosciences


CBER Seminar - Dr Marius Somveille, UCL

30 October 2023, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Title: 'Energy Efficiency Shapes Global Bird Migration Flyways'

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni




Amy Godfrey


Lecture Theatre 115
Torrington (1-19)

Abstract: Billions of birds migrate every year between breeding and wintering grounds, exhibiting a remarkable diversity of routes and seasonal destinations both between and within species. These seasonal movements of migratory birds cause a redistribution of bird diversity that radically changes avian community composition worldwide. Despite much research describing migratory behaviour, the underlying forces driving avian migration patterns remain largely unknown. In this talk, I will present my work exploring the hypothesis that energy efficiency drives bird migration across scales. This hypothesis states that birds migrate in a way that minimizes energy expenditure while targeting areas for maximum energy assimilation, considering intra- and inter-specific competition for access to resources. I will show that mechanistic models based on energy efficiency can explain much of the patterns of global bird migration, indicating that migration is an adaptation allowing birds to optimize their energy budget in the face of seasonality and competition. This work reveals fundamental similarities and differences between the Africa-Eurasia and Americas flyways, and it provides a strong basis for exploring additional processes underlying the ecology and evolution of migration, particularly when investigating species and populations that do not seem to migrate optimally. Finally, this research also provides a framework for predicting how environmental change may affect migratory species.

About the Speaker

Dr Marius Somveille

at UCL