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Migratory routes and stopover behaviour in avian migration
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. (Etologi)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9741-4431
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Migratory birds, some small and light weight as matchboxes, engage in seasonal inter-continental journeys in order to take advantage of the long summer days and abundance of food at northern latitudes to breed and raise their young, and then escape the harsh winters by migrating to lower latitudes. This thesis deals with two important aspects of migration, the routes taken during migration and the birds’ behaviour at stopovers. The migratory routes are for many species unknown, whole or in part, and this is especially true for species that migrate nocturnally. At stopovers birds replenish fuel reserves that powers migratory flight, and studying how birds utilise stopovers is important in order to understand how migration is organised. In this thesis I have used modern tracking technology to study both continental wide movements of thrush nightingales (Luscinia luscinia) and common rosefinches (Carpodacus erythrinus) using small light-level geolocators, and smaller scale movements at a single stopover site of garden warblers (Sylvia borin) using miniature radio-transmitters. I have also studied the fuelling behaviour of garden warblers during autumn migration in the field and in the lab, and great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) at a stopover site on Crete during spring migration after the Sahara crossing. The thesis discusses the significance of several aspects of migration shown by the birds that would have been very difficult to detect without the aid of modern tracking technology, such as loop migration, prolonged stops during migration, multiple wintering sites, and nocturnal relocations at stopover sites. Studies carried out at stopover sites also show that garden warblers and great reed warblers can attain large fuel loads even at sites where they have no barrier to cross and this might be a result of good foraging conditions. The thesis also highlights the importance of combining different techniques when studying stopover behaviour to get reliable estimates on stopover durations and fuel deposition rates as well as the importance of choosing sites preferred by birds when planning stopover studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University , 2016. , 49 p.
Keyword [en]
Bird migration, migration routes, stopover, geolocator, radio telemetry, tracking, fuel deposition
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126975ISBN: 978-91-7649-333-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-126975DiVA: diva2:904556
Public defence
2016-04-08, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2016-03-18 Created: 2016-02-18 Last updated: 2017-02-24Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Geolocators reveal three consecutive wintering areas in the thrush nightingale
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Geolocators reveal three consecutive wintering areas in the thrush nightingale
2012 (English)In: Animal Migration, ISSN 2084-8838, Vol. 1, 1-7 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The winter distribution of many migratory birds wintering in tropical Africa is poorly known. After the crossing of the Sahara Desert, some long-distance migrants typically stay in the Sahel zone for an extended period before continuing migration to their main wintering areas south of the equator. Here we show how two thrush nightingales (Luscinia luscinia) fitted with light-level geolocators, after a six to seven week long stay in the Sahel zone of Sudan, moved to an intermediate area in northern Kenya for a month-long stay before continuing to their final wintering areas in southern Africa. These data indicate that thrush nightingales may use three consecutive wintering sites during their stay in Africa. The migratory movements in Africa between wintering sites are well-coordinated with high precipitation in these areas, suggesting that thrush nightingales track peaks of insect abundance occurring after rains. This three-stage wintering strategy has, to our knowledge, previously not been described, and shows that long-distance migrants can have complex wintering behaviour.

Keyword
Bird migration, Africa, Sahel region, Geolocator, Stopover, Wintering pattern
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-80175 (URN)10.2478/ami-2012-0001 (DOI)
Available from: 2012-09-13 Created: 2012-09-13 Last updated: 2016-02-22Bibliographically approved
2. Migration routes and timing in a bird wintering in South Asia, the Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Migration routes and timing in a bird wintering in South Asia, the Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
Show others...
2016 (English)In: Journal of Ornithology, ISSN 2193-7192, E-ISSN 2193-7206, Vol. 157, no 3, 671-679 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Only few bird species from Western Europe migrate eastward to wintering areas in South Asia, and little is known about this migratory flyway. The Common Rosefinch has in the past century expanded its breeding range westward to include Western Europe and migrate along this flyway to wintering sites in South Asia. This is the first study describing the migration routes of Common Rosefinches between Europe and Asia in detail, revealed by light level geolocators. The rosefinches showed loop-migration with more northerly routes in autumn than in spring, possibly in order to shorten the flight over the Central Asian deserts, which are very inhospitable at this time of the year. In spring the deserts are less dry and richer in vegetation, which may have supported the more southerly routes. During autumn migration the birds used several staging sites in Central Asia for prolonged periods. Although the birds passed over mountain regions at this time, which potentially act as barriers to them, the length of the stops seem unrealistically long for only fuel deposition. Instead, this suggests that the birds temporarily suspended migration to take advantage of abundant and predictable food sources in this region. During spring migration the birds made a few longer stops while still in north India or Central Asia, before migrating at fast speeds towards the breeding grounds. The birds covered 4–5000 km with only very short stopovers and thus most of the fuel used on spring migration must have been accumulated in Asia. Our results thus indicate that Central Asia, and north India, are important staging areas for this species in both autumn and spring. During winter, birds used two sites located several hundred kilometres apart, and relocation was probably a response to local food availability.

Keyword
Carpodacus erythrinus, Common Rosefinch, Migration, Flyway, Geolocator
National Category
Zoology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126966 (URN)10.1007/s10336-016-1329-3 (DOI)000382943900003 ()
Available from: 2016-02-18 Created: 2016-02-18 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
3. Wide ranging stopover movements and substantial fuelling in first year garden warblers at a northern stopover site
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Wide ranging stopover movements and substantial fuelling in first year garden warblers at a northern stopover site
2015 (English)In: Journal of Avian Biology, ISSN 0908-8857, E-ISSN 1600-048X, Vol. 46, no 3, 315-322 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Migratory birds use stopovers to replenish their fuel reserves and they generally spend more time at stopover sites than theydo in actual fl ight. When arriving at a new stopover site birds may need to search extensively to fi nd a suitable feeding areaand this search and settling period may aff ect the duration of stopover. Stopover behaviour can thus have profound eff ectson the migratory programme and studies on stopover behaviour are important to understand migratory strategies. Wefollowed 51 fi rst-year garden warblers Sylvia borin with radio-transmitters at an autumn stopover site on the island ofGotland in southern Sweden. Our aim was to determine the distance birds relocated from the coastal capture site whensearching for an area to settle in, and also to establish the duration of stopover and put it in relation to refuelling rate byrecapturing a subset of the radio-tracked individuals. Sixteen birds made an extended stopover ( 2 d), relocated inlandfrom the capture site and settled on average 5.6 km from the capture site, with the longest recorded relocation being fourteenkilometres. Birds that relocated nocturnally settled in areas further away than birds that relocated diurnally. Th irteenbirds that continued migration after a short stop carried larger fuel stores than birds that stopped over longer and theyremained close to the capture site until departure. Th ree birds were re-trapped and showed high fuelling rates, between0.3 and 1.1 g d 1 . Th ey left the stopover site with fuel loads between 40 – 56 percent of lean body mass, which possiblywould have allowed them to reach the Mediterranean area without additional refuelling stops.

National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-115963 (URN)10.1111/jav.00492 (DOI)000355622400011 ()
Available from: 2015-04-08 Created: 2015-04-08 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
4. No compensatory fuelling due to late autumn migration in the Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
Open this publication in new window or tab >>No compensatory fuelling due to late autumn migration in the Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Birds migrating late in the migration season may need to compensate for the late departure by increasing migration speed. To increase migration speed late migrants should depart from stopovers along the route with larger fuel loads than early migrants. Both higher migration speeds and increasing fuel loads with the progress of the season have been reported in the literature. Here we test if Garden Warblers (Sylvia borin) show different fuelling strategies when captured on migration in the early or late part of autumn migration and given unlimited access to food. We also included a group of birds that were captured early in the season but held under a light regime with shorter day lengths to simulate thirty days advancement in time. We found no difference in maximum body mass between the groups and all groups reached fairly large fuel loads (mean: 39.2 % of lean body mass). Maximum fuel load was also strongly correlated with fuel deposition rate and this may suggest that Garden Warblers migrate at high speed during the entire season, which leaves little room for increasing speed later in the season.

National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126968 (URN)
Available from: 2016-02-18 Created: 2016-02-18 Last updated: 2016-02-22Bibliographically approved
5. Extensive fuelling in great reed warblers following the trans-Sahara crossing in spring
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Extensive fuelling in great reed warblers following the trans-Sahara crossing in spring
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Migratory birds wintering in Africa face the challenge of passing the Sahara desert with little opportunities to forage. During spring migration birds thus arrive in the Mediterranean area after crossing the desert with very low energy reserves. Since early arrival to the breeding grounds often is of importance to maximize reproductive success, finding stopover sites with good refuelling possibilities after the Saharan passage is of utmost importance. Here we report on extensive fuelling in the great reed warbler, Acrocephalus arundinaceus, on the south coast of Crete in spring, the first land that they encounter after crossing the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea in this area. Birds were trapped with mist nets at a river mouth, individually ringed and information about body mass, wing length, muscle score and fat score were recorded. Due to an exceptional high recapture rate at the trapping site (45%), we were able to calculate minimum stopover time and fuel deposition rates in 25 individual great reed warblers during one spring season. The large proportion of trapped great reed warbler compared to other species and the large number of recaptures suggests that great reed warbler actively choose this area for stopover. The relatively long stopover period at the site, the high fuel deposition rate (1 g day-1) and the large body mass increase show that great reed warblers at this site regularly deposit a much larger fuel load than needed for one continued flight stage to the north. It was also shown that birds with lower body mass at first capture had a higher fuel deposition rate than birds with higher body mass. This indicates that individuals are able to adjust their food intake in relation to energy reserves.

National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126970 (URN)
Available from: 2016-02-18 Created: 2016-02-18 Last updated: 2016-02-23Bibliographically approved

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