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Seasonal differences in energy requirements of Garden Warblers Sylvia borin migrating across the Sahara desert
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
2011 (English)In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 153, no 4, 746-754 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Sahara desert acts as an ecological barrier for billions of passerine birds on their way to and from their African wintering areas. The Garden Warbler Sylvia borin is one of the most common migrants involved. We used body mass of this species from Greece in autumn and spring to simulate the desert crossing and to assess how body mass relates to fuel requirement. The flight range estimates were adjusted to the seasonal extent of the desert, 2200 km in autumn and about 2800 km in spring. In autumn, with an average fuel load of about 100% of body mass without fuel, birds were not able to cross the desert in still air, but northerly winds prevail during September and with the average wind assistance only one in 14 was predicted to fail to make the crossing. Body mass data from spring, after the desert crossing, was used to estimate departure body mass from south of the desert. The average wind assistance in spring is close to zero and departure body mass of the average bird arriving at Antikythira, a small Greek island, under such conditions was estimated to be 34.6 g, which corresponded to a fuel load of 116%. Calculations based on 1% body mass loss per hour of flight showed slightly larger body mass loss than that calculated from flight range estimates. The results suggest that passerine birds about to cross the eastern part of the Sahara desert need to attain a larger fuel load in spring than in autumn.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 153, no 4, 746-754 p.
Keyword [en]
barrier crossing, bird migration, eastern Mediterranean, flight range, fuel load, Sylvia borin
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-66523DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01160.xISI: 000294957500009OAI: diva2:469837
authorCount :4Available from: 2011-12-27 Created: 2011-12-20 Last updated: 2011-12-27Bibliographically approved

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