Prof. Thomas Mueller, Goethe-University Frankfurt
Animal movements: From individual behaviors to conservation applications
From basic everyday foraging behaviors to extraordinary long-distance migrations: movements are providing essential processes for biodiversity. My research bridges across theoretical and applied aspects of movement ecology, from the behavioral underpinnings and social interactions to ecosystem functions and macro-ecological patterns. I will present case studies that focus on learning and navigation of bird and mammalian migration as well as ecosystem functions of animal movements. I am particular interested in studying the exceptional challenges an increasing human footprint poses for moving animals. How can long distance animal movements persist under increasing landscape fragmentation? One of our study systems are Mongolia’s eastern steppes, the largest intact temperate grassland ecosystem in the world. Mongolian gazelles roam these steppes in vast number and their nomadic long-distance movements lead to huge area requirements. At the same time Mongolia faces a major economical transition phase that leads to dramatic changes of the steppe landscapes. How to shape human development to allow landscape permeability for moving animals is one of the key questions for applied movement research.