First three-dimensional tracks of bat migration reveal large amounts of individual behavioral flexibility
2019-09, O'Mara, Michael Teague, Wikelski, Martin, Kranstauber, Bart, Dechmann, Dina K. N.
Animal migration has fascinated humans at least since Aristotle's time, but we only started to understand its details thanks to the famous "arrow storks" in the 19th century that returned to Europe with an arrow in their body, providing the first clues of African wintering sites. Bird migration has received a large amount of attention since then, but knowledge about migration of other organisms, even small passerine birds, remains rudimentary (Bowlin et al. 2010).
Integrating animal movement with habitat suitability for estimating dynamic migratory connectivity
2018, van Toor, Mariëlle L., Kranstauber, Bart, Newman, Scott H., Prosser, Diann J., Takekawa, John Y., Technitis, Georgios, Weibel, Robert, Wikelski, Martin, Safi, Kamran
High-resolution animal movement data are becoming increasingly available, yet having a multitude of empirical trajectories alone does not allow us to easily predict animal movement. To answer ecological and evolutionary questions at a population level, quantitative estimates of a species’ potential to link patches or populations are of importance.
We introduce an approach that combines movement-informed simulated trajectories with an environment-informed estimate of the trajectories’ plausibility to derive connectivity. Using the example of bar-headed geese we estimated migratory connectivity at a landscape level throughout the annual cycle in their native range.
We used tracking data of bar-headed geese to develop a multi-state movement model and to estimate temporally explicit habitat suitability within the species’ range. We simulated migratory movements between range fragments, and calculated a measure we called route viability. The results are compared to expectations derived from published literature.
Simulated migrations matched empirical trajectories in key characteristics such as stopover duration. The viability of the simulated trajectories was similar to that of the empirical trajectories. We found that, overall, the migratory connectivity was higher within the breeding than in wintering areas, corroborating previous findings for this species.
We show how empirical tracking data and environmental information can be fused for meaningful predictions of animal movements throughout the year and even outside the spatial range of the available data. Beyond predicting migratory connectivity, our framework will prove useful for modelling ecological processes facilitated by animal movement, such as seed dispersal or disease ecology.
True navigation in migrating gulls requires intact olfactory nerves
2015-11-24, Wikelski, Martin, Arriero, Elena, Gagliardo, Anna, Holland, Richard A., Huttunen, Markku J., Juvaste, Risto, Mueller, Inge, Tertitski, Grigori, Thorup, Kasper, Wild, Martin, Alanko, Markku, Bairlein, Franz, Cherenkov, Alexander, Cameron, Alison, Flatz, Reinhard, Hannila, Juhani, Hüppop, Ommo, Kangasniemi, Markku, Kranstauber, Bart, Penttinen, Maija-Liisa, Safi, Kamran, Semashko, Vladimir, Schmid, Heidi, Wistbacka, Ralf
During migratory journeys, birds may become displaced from their normal migratory route. Experimental evidence has shown that adult birds can correct for such displacements and return to their goal. However, the nature of the cues used by migratory birds to perform long distance navigation is still debated. In this experiment we subjected adult lesser black-backed gulls migrating from their Finnish/Russian breeding grounds (from >60°N) to Africa (to < 5°N) to sensory manipulation, to determine the sensory systems required for navigation. We translocated birds westward (1080 km) or eastward (885 km) to simulate natural navigational challenges. When translocated westwards and outside their migratory corridor birds with olfactory nerve section kept a clear directional preference (southerly) but were unable to compensate for the displacement, while intact birds and gulls with the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve sectioned oriented towards their population-specific migratory corridor. Thus, air-borne olfactory information seems to be important for migrating gulls to navigate successfully in some circumstances.
Global aerial flyways allow efficient travelling
2015, Kranstauber, Bart, Weinzierl, Rolf, Wikelski, Martin, Safi, Kamran
Birds migrate over vast distances at substantial costs. The highly dynamic nature of the air makes the selection of the best travel route difficult. We investigated to what extent migratory birds may optimise migratory route choice with respect to wind, and if route choice can be subject to natural selection. Following the optimal route, calculated using 21 years of empirical global wind data, reduced median travel time by 26.5% compared to the spatially shortest route. When we used a time-dependent survival model to quantify the adaptive benefit of choosing a fixed wind-optimised route, 84.8% of pairs of locations yielded a route with a higher survival than the shortest route. This suggests that birds, even if incapable of predicting wind individually, could adjust their migratory routes at a population level. As a consequence, this may result in the emergence of low-cost flyways representing a global network of aerial migratory pathways.
Wind estimation based on thermal soaring of birds
2016, Weinzierl, Rolf, Bohrer, Gil, Kranstauber, Bart, Fiedler, Wolfgang, Wikelski, Martin, Flack, Andrea
The flight performance of birds is strongly affected by the dynamic state of the atmosphere at the birds' locations. Studies of flight and its impact on the movement ecology of birds must consider the wind to help us understand aerodynamics and bird flight strategies. Here, we introduce a systematic approach to evaluate wind speed and direction from the high-frequency GPS recordings from bird-borne tags during thermalling flight. Our method assumes that a fixed horizontal mean wind speed during a short (18 seconds, 19 GPS fixes) flight segment with a constant turn angle along a closed loop, characteristic of thermalling flight, will generate a fixed drift for each consequent location. We use a maximum-likelihood approach to estimate that drift and to determine the wind and airspeeds at the birds' flight locations. We also provide error estimates for these GPS-derived wind speed estimates. We validate our approach by comparing its wind estimates with the mid-resolution weather reanalysis data from ECMWF, and by examining independent wind estimates from pairs of birds in a large dataset of GPS-tagged migrating storks that were flying in close proximity. Our approach provides accurate and unbiased observations of wind speed and additional detailed information on vertical winds and uplift structure. These precise measurements are otherwise rare and hard to obtain and will broaden our understanding of atmospheric conditions, flight aerodynamics, and bird flight strategies. With an increasing number of GPS-tracked animals, we may soon be able to use birds to inform us about the atmosphere they are flying through and thus improve future ecological and environmental studies.
Costs of sleeping in : circadian rhythms influence cuckoldry risk in a songbird
2015-10, Greives, Timothy J., Kingma, Sjouke A., Kranstauber, Bart, Mortega, Kim G., Wikelski, Martin, van Oers, Kees, Mateman, A. Christa, Ferguson, Glen A., Beltrami, Giulia, Hau, Michaela
Moving in the Anthropocene : Global reductions in terrestrial mammalian movements
2018-01-26, Tucker, Marlee A., Böhning-Gaese, Katrin, Blake, Stephen, Davidson, Sarah C., Fiedler, Wolfgang, Kranstauber, Bart, LaPoint, Scott, Safi, Kamran, Wikelski, Martin, Mueller, Thomas
Animal movement is fundamental for ecosystem functioning and species survival, yet the effects of the anthropogenic footprint on animal movements have not been estimated across species. Using a unique GPS-tracking database of 803 individuals across 57 species, we found that movements of mammals in areas with a comparatively high human footprint were on average one-half to one-third the extent of their movements in areas with a low human footprint. We attribute this reduction to behavioral changes of individual animals and to the exclusion of species with long-range movements from areas with higher human impact. Global loss of vagility alters a key ecological trait of animals that affects not only population persistence but also ecosystem processes such as predator-prey interactions, nutrient cycling, and disease transmission.
How Displaced Migratory Birds Could Use Volatile Atmospheric Compounds to Find Their Migratory Corridor : A Test Using a Particle Dispersion Model
2016, Safi, Kamran, Gagliardo, Anna, Wikelski, Martin, Kranstauber, Bart
Olfaction represents an important sensory modality for navigation of both homing pigeons and wild birds. Experimental evidence in homing pigeons showed that airborne volatile compounds carried by the winds at the home area are learned in association with wind directions. When displaced, pigeons obtain information on the direction of their displacement using local odors at the release site. Recently, the role of olfactory cues in navigation has been reported also for wild birds during migration. However, the question whether wild birds develop an olfactory navigational map similar to that described in homing pigeons or, alternatively, exploit the distribution of volatile compounds in different manner for reaching the goal is still an open question. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we evaluate the possibilities of reconstructing spatio-temporally explicit aerosol dispersion at large spatial scales using the particle dispersion model FLEXPART. By combining atmospheric information with particle dispersion models, atmospheric scientists predict the dispersion of pollutants for example, after nuclear fallouts or volcanic eruptions or wildfires, or in retrospect reconstruct the origin of emissions such as aerosols. Using simple assumptions, we reconstructed the putative origin of aerosols traveling to the location of migrating birds. We use the model to test whether the putative odor plume could have originated from an important stopover site. If the migrating birds knew this site and the associated plume from previous journeys, the odor could contribute to the reorientation towards the migratory corridor, as suggested for the model scenario in displaced Lesser black-backed gulls migrating from Northern Europe into Africa.
Bats Swarm Where They Hibernate : Compositional Similarity between Autumn Swarming and Winter Hibernation Assemblages at Five Underground Sites
2015, van Schaik, Jaap, Janssen, René, Bosch, Thijs, Haarsma, Anne-Jifke, Dekker, Jasja J. A., Kranstauber, Bart
During autumn in the temperate zone of both the new and old world, bats of many species assemble at underground sites in a behaviour known as swarming. Autumn swarming behaviour is thought to primarily serve as a promiscuous mating system, but may also be related to the localization and assessment of hibernacula. Bats subsequently make use of the same underground sites during winter hibernation, however it is currently unknown if the assemblages that make use of a site are comparable across swarming and hibernation seasons. Our purpose was to characterize the bat assemblages found at five underground sites during both the swarming and the hibernation season and compare the assemblages found during the two seasons both across sites and within species. We found that the relative abundance of individual species per site, as well as the relative proportion of a species that makes use of each site, were both significantly correlated between the swarming and hibernation seasons. These results suggest that swarming may indeed play a role in the localization of suitable hibernation sites. Additionally, these findings have important conservation implications, as this correlation can be used to improve monitoring of underground sites and predict the importance of certain sites for rare and cryptic bat species.