Migratory Species Conservation Framework
The goal of the Migratory Species Conservation framework is to enhance migratory biodiversity by conserving important pathways within the Gulf of Mexico and improving ecological connectivity.
The goal of the Migratory Species Conservation framework is to enhance migratory biodiversity by conserving important pathways within the Gulf of Mexico and improving ecological connectivity.
Learn More About The Framework
The framework consists of three critical steps:
1. Identify
key migratory species hotspots, threats, and corridors, as well as opportunities for conservation of multiple species’ migratory pathways.
2. Enhance
dynamic analyses through data provided by new technology, broader collaboration, and intensive modeling.
3. Design
tools to provide resource managers and interested citizens with relevant information to improve understanding, conservation, and policy on migratory processes.
Why study migratory pathways?
Migration is an adaptation with origins in natural selection. Species migrate to fulfill essential needs: to find food, reproduce, or seek out a more habitable location. The Gulf of Mexico hosts a wealth of active migration--70% of migratory fish, five species of sea turtles, one-third of the bird species in North America, and most of the Gulf’s marine mammals migrate through this ecosystem. This level of biodiversity is critical to the economic and ecological health of the entire Gulf region.
The Nature Conservancy is studying migratory pathways to identify key habitats in the life cycles of marine species in the Gulf, the critical regions connecting them, and the threats migratory species encounter that can impede migration.   These pathways are necessary for species to complete important life events such as nesting and feeding, making them vital to their survival.
LEARN The FRAMEWORK KEY TERMS
Key Terms
Occurrences are collected by observers using GPS data or through animal tracking technology. Hotspots are determined by an area’s frequency of occurrence points, which indicate animals are active there.
DIVER. 2017. Web Application: Data Integration Visualization Exploration and Reporting Application, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved: April 20, 2017, from https://www.diver.orr.noaa.gov
Animal movement data is collected from satellite-tracked tags. This data is the
primary information scientists use to uncover migratory pathways.
DIVER. 2017. Web Application: Data Integration Visualization Exploration and Reporting Application, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved: April 20, 2017, from https://www.diver.orr.noaa.gov
Migratory pathways (or corridors) are underwater or overwater paths marine species use to travel the Gulf. It is critical these corridors are free from barriers. Threats along the pathways can interrupt an animal's life cycle and ultimately impact its reproduction and resulting population. Animal movement density is derived from animal tracking data, and this density is used to identify species pathways.
DIVER. 2017. Web Application: Data Integration Visualization Exploration and Reporting Application, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved: April 20, 2017, from https://www.diver.orr.noaa.gov
Blueways are the sum of multiple migratory pathways used by various marine species across large ocean expanses such as the Gulf of Mexico. These heavily-travelled corridors are critical for connecting habitats and allowing species to migrate between nesting and feeding areas.

The Nature Conservancy coined this term to describe marine migratory corridors used by multiple species. Unlike terrestrial or aerial migratory pathways (such as bird flyways), these blueways are not yet well understood. Animal tracking data has, until recently, been largely unavailable, unreliable, and expensive. The Conservancy has worked to find, collect, analyze, and visualize this data in salient and manageable formats and has deployed animal trackers in the Gulf to fill in knowledge gaps.
Refer to The Nature Conservancy’s Migratory Species full report for data source information for the following maps:
Blueways (Fig 10. All Marine Species Corridors), Aggregations or Stopovers (Fig 13. All Species Aggregations), High-Threat Areas (Fig 4. Threat Analysis – Sea Turtles), Migratory Connectivity (Fig 50. Osprey Migration Corridor and Movement Density).
Marine species tend to stop or meet in large groups for rest along their migratory journey, feeding and spawning across the Gulf. These areas are different than hotspots, which describe highly-traveled through areas. Stopover spots signify important aggregation areas where species can be especially vulnerable during migration.
Refer to The Nature Conservancy’s Migratory Species full report for data source information for the following maps:
Blueways (Fig 10. All Marine Species Corridors), Aggregations or Stopovers (Fig 13. All Species Aggregations), High-Threat Areas (Fig 4. Threat Analysis – Sea Turtles), Migratory Connectivity (Fig 50. Osprey Migration Corridor and Movement Density).
Threat areas are portions of the Gulf where human activity, climate change, habitat loss, or environmental pollution threaten marine species or block their migration.
Refer to The Nature Conservancy’s Migratory Species full report for data source information for the following maps:
Blueways (Fig 10. All Marine Species Corridors), Aggregations or Stopovers (Fig 13. All Species Aggregations), High-Threat Areas (Fig 4. Threat Analysis – Sea Turtles), Migratory Connectivity (Fig 50. Osprey Migration Corridor and Movement Density).
Migratory connectivity refers to the links individual animals or species populations provide to their ecosystems based on their use of and fidelity to specific habitats or geographic areas. For example, birds of one breeding population that stay together throughout migration and wintering have strong connectivity, while birds that breed in the same area but disperse during migration and wintering have weak connectivity. Migratory connectivity is important for preserving relevant ecological processes and the health of the entire Gulf of Mexico large marine ecosystem.
Refer to The Nature Conservancy’s Migratory Species full report for data source information for the following maps:
Blueways (Fig 10. All Marine Species Corridors), Aggregations or Stopovers (Fig 13. All Species Aggregations), High-Threat Areas (Fig 4. Threat Analysis – Sea Turtles), Migratory Connectivity (Fig 50. Osprey Migration Corridor and Movement Density).