Review Article | Published:

Migratory coupling between predators and prey

Nature Ecology & Evolutionvolume 2pages18461853 (2018) | Download Citation


Animal migrations act to couple ecosystems and are undertaken by some of the world’s most endangered taxa. Predators often exploit migrant prey, but the movements taken by these consumers are rarely studied or understood. We define such movements, where migrant prey induce large-scale movements of predators, as migratory coupling. Migratory coupling can have ecological consequences for the participating prey, predators and the communities they traverse across the landscape. We review examples of migratory coupling in the literature and provide hypotheses regarding conditions favourable for their occurrence. We also provide a framework for interactions induced by migratory coupling and demonstrate their potential community-level impacts by examining other forms of spatial shifts in predators. Migratory coupling integrates the fields of landscape, movement, food web and community ecologies, and represents an understudied frontier in ecology.

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N.B.F. was supported via a Vanier Scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada’s Ocean Tracking Network (OTN), a postdoctoral internship through the MITACS Accelerate program, and the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project (SSMSP publication no. 24). This paper is a contribution from the ideasOTN program. The authors thank B. Harrower for helpful comments on previous drafts and M. Humphries for insightful comments regarding the manuscript's contents.

Author information


  1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA

    • Nathan B. Furey
  2. Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Pacific Salmon Ecology and Conservation Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    • Nathan B. Furey
    •  & Scott G. Hinch
  3. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA

    • Jonathan B. Armstrong
  4. U.S. Geological Survey, Western Fisheries Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

    • David A. Beauchamp


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N.B.F., J.B.A., D.A.B. and S.G.H. contributed to the conception, writing and editing of this Review.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Nathan B. Furey.

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