"By comparing the results of the models, it was possible to determine which environmental variables are the most effective in predicting zebra movement, and then use this knowledge to try and infer as to how the zebra make their decisions," said project participant Gil Bohrer of Ohio State University in a press release. "It shows we can figure out very closely what ‘makes the zebra move.'"
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As the planet changes, understanding what drives animal migration decisions can help wildlife managers make conservation decisions.
"We need to know what the fate of those migrations is under climate change," said study author Pieter Beckof the Woods Hole Research Center in a press release. "Understanding when animals might come through, what drives them, what they're looking for sometimes. Being able to predict that into the future is very useful information to managing those landscapes so that migratory animals and humans can coexist."
The Journal of Geophysical Research–Biogeoscences published Beckof's satellite study of zebra migrations.