Last modified 7 months ago Last modified on 03/27/17 09:25:08

Modified Mon Mar 27 09:25:08 2017 by Eric.Woldridge.

Challenge Problem #2: Continent-Scale Bird Migration Modeling


On peak nights during migration season, billions of birds take to the air across the US. However, because migration proceeds over vast temporal and spatial scales, and because it is difficult to observe directly, it is poorly understood. Scientists would like answers to questions such as:

  1. Do birds wait for favorable winds before migrating (or are they on a fixed schedule)?
  2. What factors influence a bird's decision to stop at some location?
  3. What factors influence a bird's decision to resume migration? and
  4. How do these factors vary from one species to another?

Answering these questions requires constructing a model of the dynamics of bird migration. A team of researchers from UMass, Cornell, and Oregon State University is in the second year of an NSF grant to develop such a model (see We have designed a challenge problem based on this project.