Migration 101: It Doesn't Come Naturally For Moose And Sheep

A study suggests large mammals must learn to migrate — and they aren't exactly quick studies. It takes decades before populations can effectively move across land to find the best food.
Migration corridors depend on maintaining both habitat connectivity and animals' knowledge of the landscape, demonstrated by these migrating bighorn sheep in Park County, Wyo. Source: Travis Zaffarano Trailcam, Wyoming Migration Initiative

Insects and birds might have an innate drive to migrate at certain times and in certain directions, but a new study suggests that large mammals such as moose and bighorn sheep have to learn to do it.

In fact, it takes decades for cultural knowledge about migration to build up before populations can effectively move across the land to find the best food, according to a report in the journal Science.

"If a migration, an ecologist at the University of Wyoming. "It's this really slow development of knowledge over time that allows them to optimally use their landscape and begin migrating."

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