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For people see Human migration; for data see Data migration.
Wildebeest crossing river in East Africa.

Migration is when animals move on an annual cycle. For example, caribou in the Arctic go south in winter and return in summer when it is warmer. Many birds migrate, such as geese and storks.

Migration is the travelling of long distances in search of a new habitat. The trigger for the migration may be local climate, local availability of food, or the season of the year. To be counted as a true migration, and not just a local dispersal, the movement should be an annual or seasonal event.

Many birds migrate south for the winter, and young Atlantic salmon leave the river of their birth when they have reached a few inches in size.[1]

Many species in the sea have a daily migration. Plankton go up for the day where there is light, and down at night, where they are less easy to find. The many species which feed on them follow them up and down.

Migration is an evolutionary force. This is because it is a major source of natural selection. The success or failure of individual animals to make the journey is usually needed for them to reproduce.

Many parts of the world have a strongly seasonal climate. In order to survive, many species need to breed in one place and, later, eat in another place. The simplest example is the African herbivores, who follow the growth of grass in East Africa. This region has seasonal rainfall, and so it has seasonal growth of grass. Their predators follow them.[1]

Related pages


  1. 1.0 1.1 David Attenborough (1990). The trials of life. London: Collins/BBCBooks. p. 123. ISBN 0002199408 .
  • Baker R.R. 1978. The evolutionary ecology of animal migration. New York: Holmes & Meyer.