Dispersal and movement are fundamental processes influencing the spatio-temporal distribution of life on Earth. Movement of individuals affect longer-term dispersal events, significantly impacting – if not generating – spatiotemporal patterns of biodiversity in a changing world.

Our overall research questions

By providing real data rather than estimated or indirectly inferred data, we will, for the first time, be able to address two fundamental questions:

  1. What factors trigger dispersal and movement at global scales?
  2. How might movement lead to persistence in a changing world? 

Some of our research projects within Movement are described below.




Most of biodiversity is too small to be tracked with existing satellite technology. Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate is involved the ICARUS project (International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space). Launch of the ICARUS antenna to be mounted on the International Space Station is scheduled for 2018. 

Read more about The ICARUS project.

The mysteries of long-distance movement

Focusing on long-distance European-African migratory passerine birds we will use miniaturised transmitters to elucidate what factors trigger movement at global scales and determine how exactly even inexperienced young birds on their solitary journeys reach their species-specific winter grounds.

Professor Kasper Thorup:

Dispersal of high Andean birds

Our aim is to determine the mobility of the enigmatic, elusive, and flight-impaired antpittas, which inhabit tiny and widely scattered fragments of Polylepis forest above the tree line in the Andes Mountains of South America.

Professor Carsten 
Professor Gary Graves:
Professor Kasper Thorup:


Aiming to understand life on the move, we use a variety of tracking and modelling techniques to map and describe movement and migration.

Mapping and modelling songbird migrations

We are using light logger technology to track biogeographical spatiotemporal distributions. Until replaced with the above satellite-technology, we use small geolocators (light-logging tags) to map the migration routes and winter grounds of a suite of small passerines wintering in sub-Saharan Africa. The data are used to describe the precise spatiotemporal distributions important for understanding the seasonal changes in bird distributions relative to spatiotemporal variation in climate and food resources.

Professor Kasper Thorup: