Behaviour 2019
Search
The seasonal migration of juvenile songbirds and its genetic basis.
Hannah Justen1, Wendy Easton2, Kira Delmore1. 1Texas A&M University, 3528 TAMU, College Station, Texas, United States; 2Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Delta, British Columbia, Canada

Seasonal migration of songbirds is a fascinating phenomenon with most birds migrating alone and at night without the opportunity to follow experienced birds. Nevertheless, these birds exhibit predictable migratory routes, which suggests that migratory behavior is genetically determined. Migration is a complex behavior that is controlled by a set of co-adapted traits (e.g., orientation, timing, fattening, wing length). To uncover the genetic basis of these traits, we are using natural hybrids between two subspecies of the Swainson’s thrush that exhibit differences in wing length, timing and orientation of migration. We used the Motus Wildlife tracking system to obtain tracking data for 140 juvenile hybrid thrushes and describe great variation in migratory phenotype of these juveniles on their first migration. Genetic mapping of these birds will help narrow down a previously identified region of the genome that was associated with migratory orientation and uncover additional regions involved in generating the observed migratory phenotype.