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Smithsonian scientists report changes in vegetation determine how animals migrate
Date:5/11/2011

ed shorter distances (guanaco and moose) live in areas where the vegetation varies at a much smaller scale.

They also found that Mongolian gazelles, which move independently in different directions compared to one another other, live in habitats with the least predictable landscape dynamics.

"What this indicates is that while it may be appropriate to put barriers around landscapes where endangered species stay in herds as they migrate, species that migrate long distances as individuals require conservation strategies that facilitate long-distance movements across the entire landscape," said Scott Derrickson, deputy director of SCBI. "We now know some of the landscape factors that we can look at to determine the best way to manage habitat for endangered or threatened species."

SCBI will spearhead the next steps in the research: expanding the number of species and the number of study regions and refining the statistical methods quantifying how individuals move relative to one another. The researchers also want to understand how the animals know how to navigate the landscapeswhether through memory or through other sensory mechanismsand if those mechanisms differ between the species that migrate as herds or as individuals.


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Contact: Lindsay Renick Mayer
202-633-3081
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert

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