Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 152, Supplement 1, pp 161–168 | Cite as

The importance of stopover habitat for developing effective conservation strategies for migratory animals

  • Justin SheehyEmail author
  • Caz M. Taylor
  • D. Ryan Norris
Original Paper


Although stopover habitats are used by many species as refuelling stations during migration and can be critical for survival and successful reproduction, they are rarely incorporated in year-round population models and conservation strategies. We incorporate stopover habitat into a density-dependent population model and then use this model to examine how optimizing one-time land purchase strategies for a migratory population is influenced by variation in the quality and the strength of density-dependence in a stopover habitat used for both fall and spring migration. As the strength of the density-dependence in the stopover habitat increases, the optimal amount of stopover habitat purchased increases while the amount of habitat during the stationary periods of the annual cycle (breeding and wintering) decreases. Any change in the cost of purchasing stopover habitat affects investment strategies in all three periods of the annual cycle. When the quality of the stopover habitat is high, the optimal strategy is to invest in low-quality habitat during breeding and wintering and when the stopover habitat quality is low, the optimal strategy switches to investing in high-quality habitat during the stationary periods. We apply this model to a threatened warbler population and demonstrate how purchase decisions to conserve stopover habitat that are not coordinated with conservation actions on the breeding and wintering grounds can potentially result in a lower population carrying-capacity compared to considering habitat in all three periods of the annual cycle simultaneously. Our model provides potential guidelines for developing conservation strategies for animals that rely on refueling habitats between the stationary breeding and non-breeding periods of the migratory cycle.


Conservation models Population dynamics Migratory birds Stopover sites 



DRN was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Innovation and Training. Kevin McCann provided valuable comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10336_2011_682_MOESM1_ESM.docx (88.5 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 90609 kb)


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin Sheehy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Caz M. Taylor
    • 2
  • D. Ryan Norris
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

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