A network approach to prioritize conservation efforts for migratory birds

Yanjie Xu, Yali Si, John Takekawa, Qiang Liu, Herbert H. T. Prins, Shenglai Yin, Diann J. Prosser, Peng Gong, Willem F. de Boer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)


Habitat loss can trigger migration network collapse by isolating migratory bird breeding grounds from nonbreeding grounds. Theoretically, habitat loss can have vastly different impacts depending on the site's importance within the migratory corridor. However, migration‐network connectivity and the impacts of site loss are not completely understood. We used GPS tracking data on 4 bird species in the Asian flyways to construct migration networks and proposed a framework for assessing network connectivity for migratory species. We used a node‐removal process to identify stopover sites with the highest impact on connectivity. In general, migration networks with fewer stopover sites were more vulnerable to habitat loss. Node removal in order from the highest to lowest degree of habitat loss yielded an increase of network resistance similar to random removal. In contrast, resistance increased more rapidly when removing nodes in order from the highest to lowest betweenness value (quantified by the number of shortest paths passing through the specific node). We quantified the risk of migration network collapse and identified crucial sites by first selecting sites with large contributions to network connectivity and then identifying which of those sites were likely to be removed from the network (i.e., sites with habitat loss). Among these crucial sites, 42% were not designated as protected areas. Setting priorities for site protection should account for a site's position in the migration network, rather than only site‐specific characteristics. Our framework for assessing migration‐network connectivity enables site prioritization for conservation of migratory species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-426
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019


  • bird migration
  • conectividad
  • connectivity
  • conservation designation
  • designación de conservación
  • habitat loss
  • migración de aves
  • network
  • pérdida de hábitat
  • redes


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  • Spreading on Networks

    Liu, Q., 2019, Delft. 142 p.

    Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

    Open Access
    137 Downloads (Pure)

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