Birds and Macrosystems. One

Tethysphere birds

Macrosystems are ecological systems that are studied at large spatial scales (greater than 10^2 km2 ) and large temporal scales (measured in decades to millennia). The macrorivers project studies rivers at these large geographic and temporal scales. Birds often migrate, connecting disparate regions of watersheds in ways no other type of animal has until humans began long-distance travel. The birds and macrosystems series provides digital tours on aquatic birds, on their biology, ecosystem, and the biomechanics of flights. The tours are produced by students from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University who worked under the direction of Dr. Sally Blomstrom in collaboration with Dr. Barbara Hayford of Tethysphere. Here is an overview of Macrosystems:

Overview of Macrosystems scale from the Macrorivers project.

The first bird profiled in this series is the Black-Crowned Night Heron.

Photo from Charles Homler, via creative commons

As the black-crowned night heron flies along is migration path, it may carry algae and macroinvertebrates from one part of a watershed to another or across many different watersheds. Why is this important? Well, the birds mix biota at different interactive scales. Something that more researchers study today, as ecosystem science becomes global.

For more information:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology—Home

Heffernan, James B., Patricia A. Soranno, Michael J. Angilletta Jr, Lauren B. Buckley, Daniel S. Gruner, Tim H. Keitt, James R. Kellner et al. “Macrosystems ecology: understanding ecological patterns and processes at continental scales.” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment12, no. 1 (2014): 5-14.





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