Yanjie Xu is HelLO postdoc researcher of Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki. She studies macrospatial ecological dynamics. Under the background of global change, her current research topics include pan-European avian conservation prioritization; connectivity of global bird migration networks; disease dynamics in European birds and bats; waterbird conservation in Indian coasts; bird conservation in Finland – wetland restoration, window collision, and tick infestation; etc.
Migratory birds rely on a network of interconnected sites to complete their annual cycle. Every year, they move through these migration networks, site by site, for breeding, moulting, foraging, refueling and resting during long-distance movements, exchanging social information, etc. Meanwhile, these networks function propagule dispersal, pathogen exchange, nutrient and contaminant cycling. Conserving the connectivity of migration networks is essential for sustainability of bird populations and ecosystem services provided by their movements.Prioritizing conservation efforts for sites that have a crucial contribution to connectivity of entire migration network is an effective and efficient approach, which returns great conservation gains from protecting a small proportion of sites. However, 35% of such important sites along global bird migration routes have no coverage of protected area at all, putting a majority (~90%) of migratory bird species at risk. Also, such connectivity aspect has not yet been included as a quantitative criterion for designating protected areas in international frameworks of bird conservation. For migratory species, it is important to make conservation decisions from a network perspective, which requires intergovernmental partnerships and collaborative actions.