The Evolutionary Need For Migration

What is the difference between immigration, emigration, and migration?

The only difference in the definitions of these three terms is perspective.  An individual immigrant is essentially both emigrating and immigrating anytime they migrate.  The way this is perceived depends simply on whether you live in the country in which they are arriving or the country in which they are leaving. 

Immigration is defined by Wikipedia (2017): “Immigration is the international movement of people into a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle or reside there, especially as permanent residents or naturalized citizens, or to take-up employment as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker”. 

Emigration is defined by Wikipedia (2017): “Emigration is the act of leaving one’s resident country with the intent to settle elsewhere. Conversely, immigration describes the movement of persons into one country from another. Both are acts of migration across national boundaries”.

Human migration is defined by Wikipedia (2017) as “the movement by people from one place to another with the intentions of settling, permanently in the new location”.

How does immigration discussion limit perspective?

Government entities tend to only discuss migration in terms of immigration (people arriving into the country) and rarely discuss migration in terms of emigration (people leaving the country); however, both terms are relevant.  In fact, many claims regarding over-crowding in any one country, city, or area, could easily be balanced by the opposing force of emigration.  Discussing only one aspect of migration in this way leads to erroneous views about migration as a whole.  Immigration facts are rampant; however emigration facts are sparse.  Migration is a natural process that has existed as long as living beings have existed.  In fact, evolution depends on migration for species survival.  Its likely that for as many people wanting in the country, an equal number of people would like to leave the country, if they could; however, migration is severely limited across the globe, making it extremely difficult to migrate, even in the most dire of circumstances.

How does limiting migration effect the human species?

Although the term migration is used to refer to humans, it is more often used to refer to all other living things and even some non-living things.  Migration is such an innate, instinctual, and purposeful part of life that all living things do it.  Nuclei, cells, plants, birds, animals, fish, insects, butterflies and moths, ocean organisms, forests and even planets all migrate.  Migration serves an evolutionary purpose as evidenced by its pervasive existence throughout all of life and history.  Darwin once explained that the purpose of evolution is survival; therefore, any species, which migrates for the purpose of survival, is also following a natural instinct fueled by evolution.  Evolution is persistent; however, in that its going to happen regardless of any other variability.  In other words, humans, plants, and animals can all evolve to survive in almost any circumstance.  Many of which are not the best evolutionary options.  For instance, a child deprived of social interaction or left to be cared for by animals will adapt to those conditions; often never developing speech and developing animalistic behaviors.  The adaptations help the child survive in those circumstances; however, these are backward adaptations and are not progressing the human species in a positive direction.  By limiting humans in their ability to naturally adapt via the process of migration, we ultimately limit the process of evolution.  By mitigating migration efforts across the world, we are also limiting the potential of the entire human species. 

When did migration start?

In short, the beginning of time.  Remember back when there were no continents, countries or cities … when we could move wherever we needed to without restriction … when hegemony and ego didn’t rule the lives of millions?  Neither do I; however, I have read about it.  It seems like migration is a natural process that all living beings partake in, many by sheer instinct or intuition, in order to increase the likelihood of survival.  With that perspective, it is concerning that humans are being limited so drastically against instinct across the globe; most likely at our own detriment. 

What is the purpose of migration?

Nuclei and Cell Migration

Nuclei and cells migrate many times during the well known process of conception in order to create a zygote then embryo, then fetus.  In fact, the cell migration process continues for our entire lives carrying us through to adulthood.  If this migration process was limited, we would most likely not survive or would develop severe limitations to survival.  As living beings we depend on migration from conception in order to grow, adapt, and evolve.

Plant Migration

Plant cells also depend on migration heavily.  For instance, plants are very limited in motion but even they have adapted the ability to migrate.  For plants, migration depends on light or gravity.  Plant cells divide when they are exposed to light subsequently producing growth in the direction of the light source.  In the case of gravity, plant roots produce statoliths which either settle away from or towards gravitational direction; thus, producing growth in the dictated direction.  Therefore, plants migrate in an effort to improve their likelihood of survival. 

Animal Migration

Birds are one of the most well known cases of constant migration.  Birds usually migrate due to lack of resources: typically either food or nesting; however, genetic predisposition, geography, and day length also play roles in migration needs.  Resources can become limited for a variety of reasons such as weather, human interference, etc.  The migration patterns of birds vary because they all differ in their abilities to adapt where they are depending upon the variables on which they rely.  In fact, birds are classified by ornithologists as either permanent residents, short distance migrants, medium distance migrants, or long distance migrants.  Certain varieties of some animals, such as moths and butterflies, mate and reproduce during migration such that no individual completes the entire journey; instead, successive generations complete the journey; evidence that migration isn’t purposeful for only one lifespan but also for successive generations.  The common thread being that all living things migrate for a purpose and that purpose is survival; which is motivated by many factors.

Forest Migration

Forests, like animals and people often times are either required to move due to external forces such as weather or in response to natural processes such as reproduction.  Although trees are fixed in their location, seemingly permanently, they actually migrate over a period of time due to either environmental suppression and/or seed dispersal.  Rapid change in climate such as the current state of global warming often speeds up this migration process; however, researchers are unsure if the forest population will be capable of making such drastic movements before many species become extinct.

Planet Migration

Yes, even planets migrate.  We don’t usually consider planets as being living beings; however, consisting completely of living beings, Earth is very alive.  Planet migration takes place when a planet comes in contact with either a disk of gas or planetesimals.  Gas disks around stars can cause an exchange of angular momentum between the planet and the star which results in a change in orbit.  Similarly during planetary system formation, gravitational forces within the universe often cause an interaction which results in an exchange in angular momentum causing changes in orbit. 

Human Migration

Humans migrate for many of the same reasons that nuclei, cells, plants, animals, forests and planets do.  These reasons being rooted in external or internal motivations.  Such motivations can be attributed to: economy, conflict, human rights violations, violence, to escape persecution, access to opportunities or services, escaping extreme weather conditions, etc.  The list of reasons why humans migrate is exhaustive; however, there is one common thread in all aspects of purpose for migration whether it be pertaining to nuclei, cells, plants, animals, forests, planets or humans and that is survival.  Because migration purposes are always based in survival instincts, it is appropriate to relate migration with evolutionary need.  Through the act of migration humans increase their chances of survival and initiate adaptation in a positive direction which contributes to positive evolutionary changes within species.  While many people may view migration on a personal level, the greater concern is how the mitigation of migration is effecting the human species in the long run and how these effects are contributing to a negative process of adaptation and evolution such as disease, other health concerns, economic consequences etc. 

How has the process of human migration evolved?

Research shows that human migration began 2 million years ago when humans (then known as Homo erectus) migrated out of Africa.  Several variant pre-modern humans then began migrating out of Africa until the current variant of humans (Homo sapiens) migrated out of Africa about 100,000 years ago.  Migration then spread across Asia around 60,000 years ago and have since dispersed to various islands and continents.  Research in Archeology has provided evidence for these migrations as human fossils have been located in these areas to support these theories.  There was a time period around 45,000 years ago in which modern humans and Neanderthals occupied the same territory in Europe; thus often competing for control of this territory.  As instinctive as migration is, competition for territory has also been an instinctive characteristic of almost all animals.

Is competition for territory advantageous to human survival?

While competition for territory has been an instinctive feature of animals since the beginning of time, it must be considered as to whether or not this is a productive practice for the human species.  It is well known that many millions of people have died due to this common practice over the past thousands of years yet it seems as though there has been no real advancements made due to this competition.  In fact, the many territorial competitions that have been undertaken have primarily added to the genetic inheritance of a highly negative collective conscious as described by Carl Jung. 

How is the mixing of various cultures a benefit? 

Migration and genetic mixing is beneficial to the human race.  Research has shown that larger genetic variation contributes to more positive genetic outcomes.  This is evidenced in the common knowledge of the ill effects of incest upon genetic phenotype (observable characteristics).  Children born to people who are closely related such as mother and son, father and daughter, or even more genetically similar, brother and sister are known to be genetically at a disadvantage.  Research shows that most cases of inbreeding lead to severe consequences such as: congenital disorders, death, and developmental and physical disability.  This clearly depicts the benefits of having a large genetic variation between humans for purposes of procreation.  The existence of a larger gene pool selection for offspring allows for genetically and evolutionarily more robust offspring.  Genetic variation is favorable evolutionarily as well as genetically for the survival of the human species.  Therefore, allowing humans to migrate as they see fit in response to their own intuitions and instincts about their own survival, also increases this variation amongst populations all over the world.  Furthermore, genetic variation is not the only benefit to the mixing of people of various cultures.  There is a lot to learn from people who are different from ourselves.  Adopting new perspectives allows everyone the opportunity to improve upon themselves, supporting evolutionary adaptation in the most positive way possible.  Finally, research even shows that migration improves economic conditions in cases of both immigration and emigration.


Australia Migration Council. (2013). The economic impact of migration. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from

Chambers, J. (2009). Planetary Migration . Retrieved February 12, 2017, from

Clark, J., Beckage, B., HillRisLambers, J., Ibanez, I., LaDeau, S., McLachlan, J., . . . Rocca, M. (2002). Plant dispersal and migration. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from

Papademitriou, D., & Terrazas, A. (2009). Immigrants and the current economic crisis. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from file:///Users/awww4real/Downloads/lmi_recessionJan09.pdf

Williams, M., & Dumroese, K. (2013). Preparing for climate change . Retrieved February 12, 2017, from

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