Combining remote sensing and tracking data to quantify species' cumulative exposure to anthropogenic change

Claire Buchan, James J. Gilroy, Inês Catry, Chris M. Hewson, Philip W. Atkinson, Aldina M. A. Franco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Identifying when and where organisms are exposed to anthropogenic change is crucial for diagnosing the drivers of biodiversity declines and implementing effective conservation measures. Accurately measuring individual-scale exposure to anthropogenic impacts across the annual cycle as they move across continents requires an approach that is both spatially and temporally explicit—now achievable through recent parallel advances in remote-sensing and individual tracking technologies. We combined 10 years of tracking data for a long-distance migrant, (common cuckoo, Cuculus canorus), with multi-dimensional remote-sensed spatial datasets encompassing thirteen relevant anthropogenic impacts (including infrastructure, hunting, habitat change, and climate change), to quantify mean hourly and total accumulated exposure of tracked individuals to anthropogenic change across each stage of the annual cycle. Although mean hourly exposure to anthropogenic change was greatest in the breeding stage, accumulated exposure to changes associated with direct mortality risks (e.g., built infrastructure) and with climate were greatest during the wintering stage, which comprised 63% of the annual cycle on average for tracked individuals. Exposure to anthropogenic change varied considerably within and between migratory flyways, but there were no clear between-flyway differences in overall exposure during migration stages. However, more easterly autumn migratory routes were significantly associated with lower subsequent exposure to anthropogenic impacts in the winter stage. Cumulative change exposure was not significantly associated with recent local-scale population trends in the breeding range, possibly because cuckoos from shared breeding areas may follow divergent migration routes and therefore encounter very different risk landscapes. Our study highlights the potential for the integration of tracking data and high-resolution remote sensing to generate valuable and detailed new insights into the impacts of environmental change on wild species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6679-6692
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number23
Early online date9 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • anthropogenic change
  • full season
  • migration
  • movement ecology
  • remote sensing

Cite this