Seasonality, niche management, and vertical migration in landscapes of relief
Landscapes of vertical relief, such as mountains and continental slopes, intensify ecological and climatological variation within narrow spatial windows. Seasonal vertical migrants exploit this variation during their residence in, and movements between, vertically stratified seasonal ranges. Animals in terrestrial, marine, and even human-ecological systems undergo similar patterns of seasonal vertical movements. The diversity of arenas in which vertical migration evolved lends insight to the
... s insight to the factors promoting seasonal use of landscapes of relief. Because animals must contend with both endogenous circannual rhythms and exogenous environmental seasonality, vertical migrants may be sensitive to inconsistent change across stratified seasonal ranges under climate change. To better understand how ongoing and future climatic and environmental changes are likely to impact vertical migrants, we examine vertical migration in the context of niche tracking and niche switching. Whereas niche trackers minimize variation in realized environmental conditions throughout their seasonal movements, niche switchers undergo seasonal transitions in realized niche space. These strategies mediate the relationship between migrants and their changing environment, and can be used to forecast impacts of future change and effectively conserve systems of vertical migration. Niche tracking may be hindered by inconsistent or unpredictable environmental change along a single niche axis across strata, while niche switching may be sensitive to incongruous spatiotemporal change across factors. We suggest that climate change will affect seasonal patterns in vertical environments discontinuously across time, space, and strata, and that vertical migrants are likely to face additional anthropogenic threats that interact with environmental seasonality. Conservation of vertical migrants should prioritize the availability of, and facilitate movement between, stratified seasonal ranges.