Why is this research important? We still know very little about the evolution and diversification of migratory bird species and populations, in large part because past research has concentrated on a limited set of species, primarily those that breed at north temperate latitudes. Such a bias lacks an evolutionary perspective, since New World migratory birds breed throughout the entire hemisphere. Only by studying migratory birds throughout the hemisphere will be appreciate the full range of adaptations that migratory birds have evolved to reproduce, migrate and survive the multiple challenges posed by living a life “on the move”.
Additionally, research from north temperate latitudes has shown that many species are migrating and arriving on breeding grounds earlier, are expanding their range northwards, are migrating earlier in fall, and are changing the date on which they lay eggs. Nevertheless, we still do not know whether this is true of birds that breed elsewhere in the New World, such as as tropical and south temperate latitudes. Such information could prove highly valuable in developing conservation plans for these species, in the face of climate change.