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Classroom Resources: Connecting Flights

By Frances Cairncross
January-March 2006 (Vol. 7, No. 1)

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Discussion Questions

  1. The biologist Yossi Leshem is described as a “connector.” Why is this an important role in conservation today?
  2. Why is Israel such an important hotspot for conflict between bird migration and human activity? What geophysical, biological, and historical factors combine to produce this globally important situation? What characteristics of animal migrations generally necessitate a global conservation outlook?
  3. Think about the energetics of migration. How might body size, metabolism, and human air travel patterns combine to make species more or less vulnerable to collisions with aircraft? Can you create an interdisciplinary theory that would help to avoid such conflicts worldwide? What testable hypotheses can you come up with?
  4. Conservation of migratory animals is greatly aided by recent technological advances including mapping, radar, and telemetry. How has Yossi creatively applied advanced technology? What has the role of the military been?
  5. Nine/6600 bird collisions since 1972 (0.14%) resulted in a loss of aircraft in Israel. Given the value of aircraft, the tragedy of loss of human life, and the generally low value that society places on biodiversity, to what degree do you think that Yossi’s program is supported due to ecocentric vs. anthropocentric concerns?

Websites for Further Information

  • The Nature Conservancy:
  • Smithsonian Migratory Bird Program:¬†
  • Migration ecology:

Migration in the Media

Key Concepts

  • Long-distance migration
  • Migration energetics
  • Effects of human conflict on biodiversity
  • Marriage of science and policy
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