Feature Image

Monarch Butterfly / iStockPhoto

July 14, 2016. Life / A Gift of Nature

Wildlife Spectacles

Whether we have observed them personally, or through magazine articles or TV programs, some of our most vivid and enduring images of the natural world are of spectacular congregations of animals

Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D, Nigel J.Collar, Dr. Tracy Farrel, Barbara Goettsch, Vance Martin, Roderic Mast, Jeffrey A. McNeely, Cristina Goetsch Mittermeier, Russell A. Mittermeier, Fabian Oberfeld, Trevor Sandwith, Dr. Jane Smart, Dr. Richard Sneider, Gregory S. Stone & Michael P. Totten

Vast flocks of migratory birds so enormous they block the light of the sun; wildebeest migrations, on the plains of Africa, which stretch to the horizon; monarch butterflies covering trees like clusters of beautifully colored leaves in Mexico, are some examples of spectacular congregations of animals.

The factors that bring together large numbers of animals fall into four broad categories: climate, food, defense, and reproduction.  Changing seasons tend to usher some species in and out of torpor, during which times unusually large concentrations of individuals may form, or the same changes may trigger mass migrations to more suitable climes.  The quest for food can also cause spectacular wildlife groupings and movements.  Likewise, congregations can form to provide increased vigilance and response against predators.  Lastly, among sexually reproductive organisms, the need to procreate is often the primary stimulus behind large aggregations of the two sexes.

Considerable efforts are being made in many parts of the world to identify, protect and restore places of vital significance to gregarious species.  Many of them are now conserved as nature reserves of one sort or another, while various efforts are being made on behalf of areas yet to be protected.


This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Conservation Series A GIFT OF NATURE (2012)


A Gift of Nature

Twenty Years of Conservation & Photography

buy book