Trends and missing parts in the study of movement ecology

Marcel Holyoak*, Renato Casagrandi, Ran Nathan, Eloy Revilla, Orr Spiegel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

266 Scopus citations

Abstract

Movement is important to all organisms, and accordingly it is addressed in a huge number of papers in the literature. Of nearly 26,000 papers referring to movement, an estimated 34% focused on movement by measuring it or testing hypotheses about it. This enormous amount of information is difficult to review and highlights the need to assess the collective completeness of movement studies and identify gaps. We surveyed 1,000 randomly selected papers from 496 journals and compared the facets of movement studied with a suggested framework for movement ecology, consisting of internal state (motivation, physiology), motion and navigation capacities, and external factors (both the physical environment and living organisms), and links among these components. Most studies simply measured and described the movement of organisms without reference to ecological or internal factors, and the most frequently studied part of the framework was the link between external factors and motion capacity. Few studies looked at the effects on movement of navigation capacity, or internal state, and those were mainly from vertebrates. For invertebrates and plants most studies were at the population level, whereas more vertebrate studies were conducted at the individual level. Consideration of only population-level averages promulgates neglect of between-individual variation in movement, potentially hindering the study of factors controlling movement. Terminology was found to be inconsistent among taxa and subdisciplines. The gaps identified in coverage of movement studies highlight research areas that should be addressed to fully understand the ecology of movement.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)19060-19065
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume105
Issue number49
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Dec 2008

Keywords

  • Dispersal
  • Foraging
  • Migration
  • Navigation
  • Physiology

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