Revealing patterns of nocturnal migration using the European weather radar network

Cecilia Nilsson , Adriaan M. Dokter , Liesbeth Verlinden , Judy Shamoun-Baranes , Baptiste Schmid , Peter Desmet , Silke Bauer , Jason Chapman , Jose A. Alves , Philip M. Stepanian , Nir Sapir , Charlotte Wainwright , Mathieu Boos , Anna Górska , Myles H.M. Menz , Pedro Rodrigues , Hidde Leijnse , Pavel Zehtindjiev , Robin Brabant , Günther Haase , Nadja Weisshaupt , Michał Ciach , Felix Liechti


Nocturnal avian migration flyways remain an elusive concept, as we have largely lacked methods to map their full extent. We used the network of European weather radars to investigate nocturnal bird movements at the scale of the European flyway. We mapped the main migration directions and showed the intensity of movement across part of Europe by extracting biological information from 70 weather radar stations from northern Scandinavia to Portugal, during the autumn migration season of 2016. On average, over the 20 nights and all sites, 389 birds passed per 1 km transect per hour. The night with highest migration intensity showed an average of 1621 birds km–1 h–1 passing the radar stations, but there was considerable geographical and temporal variation in migration intensity. The highest intensity of migration was seen in central France. The overall migration directions showed strong southwest components. Migration dynamics were strongly related to synoptic wind conditions. A wind‐related mass migration event occurred immediately after a change in wind conditions, but quickly diminished even when supporting winds continued to prevail. This first continental‐scale study using the European network of weather radars demonstrates the wealth of information available and its potential for investigating large‐scale bird movements, with consequences for ecosystem function, nutrient transfer, human and livestock health, and civil and military aviation.
Author Cecilia Nilsson
Cecilia Nilsson,,
, Adriaan M. Dokter
Adriaan M. Dokter,,
, Liesbeth Verlinden
Liesbeth Verlinden,,
, Judy Shamoun-Baranes
Judy Shamoun-Baranes,,
, Baptiste Schmid
Baptiste Schmid,,
, Peter Desmet
Peter Desmet,,
, Silke Bauer
Silke Bauer,,
, Jason Chapman
Jason Chapman,,
, Jose A. Alves
Jose A. Alves,,
, Philip M. Stepanian
Philip M. Stepanian,,
et al.`
Journal seriesEcography, ISSN 0906-7590, e-ISSN 1600-0587, (N/A 100 pkt)
Issue year2019
Publication size in sheets0.5
Keywords in Englishavian migration, weather radar, migration flyways
ASJC Classification1105 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Languageen angielski
Revealing patterns of nocturnal migration using the European weather radar network of 23-07-2019
2,46 MB
Score (nominal)100
Score sourcejournalList
Publication indicators WoS Citations = 9; Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2018 = 1.86; WoS Impact Factor: 2018 = 5.946 (2) - 2018=6.691 (5)
Citation count*21 (2020-03-29)
Additional fields
FinansowanieLV and in part AMD's work was financially supported by the technology program (DTP) of the Dutch Ministry of Defence, PD's work is supported as part of the Flemish contribution to LifeWatch. We acknowledge the support provided by COST—European Cooperation in Science and Technology through the Action ES1305 ‘ENRAM
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* presented citation count is obtained through Internet information analysis and it is close to the number calculated by the Publish or Perish system.
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