Migratory animals are essential components of the ecosystems that support all life on Earth. By acting as pollinators and seed distributors they contribute to ecosystem structure and function. They provide food for other animals and regulate the number of species in ecosystems. Migratory animals are potentially very effective indicators of environmental changes that affect us all.

In local and global economies, too, migratory animals play an important role: through subsistence, recreational and commercial hunting, and fishing activities providing food and income. More recently they have become prime attractions for ecotourists such as bird spotters or whale watchers.

In addition, migratory species have a great significance in many cultures – in legends, stories, religions, medicine and customs. They even play a major role in the way we measure time and experience seasons. Nowadays humans also benefit from them for recreational activities and educational purposes.