Holland, Richard A.
Flexibility of habitat use in novel environments : insights from a translocation experiment with lesser black-backed gulls
2017-01-18, van Toor, Marielle, Arriero, Elena, Holland, Richard A., Huttunen, Markku J., Juvaste, Risto, Müller, Inge, Thorup, Kasper, Wikelski, Martin, Safi, Kamran
Being faced with unknown environments is a concomitant challenge of species' range expansions. Strategies to cope with this challenge include the adaptation to local conditions and a flexibility in resource exploitation. The gulls of the Larus argentatus-fuscus-cachinnans group form a system in which ecological flexibility might have enabled them to expand their range considerably, and to colonize urban environments. However, on a population level both flexibility and local adaptation lead to signatures of differential habitat use in different environments, and these processes are not easily distinguished. Using the lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus) as a system, we put both flexibility and local adaptation to a test. We compare habitat use between two spatially separated populations, and use a translocation experiment during which individuals were released into novel environment. The experiment revealed that on a population-level flexibility best explains the differences in habitat use between the two populations. We think that our results suggest that the range expansion and huge success of this species complex could be a result of its broad ecological niche and flexibility in the exploitation of resources. However, this also advises caution when using species distribution models to extrapolate habitat use across space.
A strong magnetic pulse affects the precision of departure direction of naturally migrating adult but not juvenile birds
2013-04-06, Holland, Richard A., Helm, Barbara
The mechanisms by which migratory birds achieve their often spectacular navigational performance are still largely unclear, but perception of cues from the Earth's magnetic field is thought to play a role. Birds that possess migratory experience can use map-based navigation, which may involve a receptor that uses ferrimagnetic material for detecting gradients in the magnetic field. Such a mechanism can be experimentally disrupted by applying a strong magnetic pulse that re-magnetizes ferrimagnetic materials. In captivity, this treatment indeed affected bearings of adult but not of naive juvenile birds. However, field studies, which expose birds to various navigational cues, yielded mixed results. Supportive studies were difficult to interpret because they were conducted in spring when all age groups navigate back to breeding areas. The present study, therefore, applied a magnetic pulse treatment in autumn to naturally migrating, radio-tagged European robins. We found that, although overall bearings were seasonally correct, orientation of adult but not juvenile robins was compromised by a pulse. Pulsed adults that departed within 10 days of treatment failed to show significant orientation and deviated more from mean migration direction than adult controls and juveniles. Thus, our data give field-based support for a possible ferrimagnetic map-sense during bird migration.
Juvenile songbirds compensate for displacement to oceanic islands during autumn migration
2011, Thorup, Kasper, Ortvad, Troels Eske, Rabøl, Jørgen, Holland, Richard A., Tøttrup, Anders P., Wikelski, Martin
To what degree juvenile migrant birds are able to correct for orientation errors or wind drift is still largely unknown. We studied the orientation of passerines on the Faroe Islands far off the normal migration routes of European migrants. The ability to compensate for displacement was tested in naturally occurring vagrants presumably displaced by wind and in birds experimentally displaced 1100 km from Denmark to the Faroes. The orientation was studied in orientation cages as well as in the free-flying birds after release by tracking departures using small radio transmitters. Both the naturally displaced and the experimentally displaced birds oriented in more easterly directions on the Faroes than was observed in Denmark prior to displacement. This pattern was even more pronounced in departure directions, perhaps because of wind influence. The clear directional compensation found even in experimentally displaced birds indicates that first-year birds can also possess the ability to correct for displacement in some circumstances, possibly involving either some primitive form of true navigation, or ‘sign posts’, but the cues used for this are highly speculative. We also found some indications of differences between species in the reaction to displacement. Such differences might be involved in the diversity of results reported in displacement studies so far.
Large-Range Movements of Neotropical Orchid Bees Observed via Radio Telemetry
2010, Wikelski, Martin, Moxley, Jerry, Eaton-Mordas, Alexander, Lopez-Uribe, Margarita M., Holland, Richard A., Moskowitz, David, Roubik, David W., Kays, Roland, Raine, Nigel E.
Neotropical orchid bees (Euglossini) are often cited as classic examples of trapline-foragers with potentially extensive foraging ranges. If long-distance movements are habitual, rare plants in widely scattered locations may benefit from euglossine pollination services. Here we report the first successful use of micro radio telemetry to track the movement of an insect pollinator in a complex and forested environment. Our results indicate that individual male orchid bees (Exaerete frontalis) habitually use large rainforest areas (at least 42 115 ha) on a daily basis. Aerial telemetry located individuals up to 5 km away from their core areas, and bees were often stationary, for variable periods, between flights to successive localities. These data suggest a higher degree of site fidelity than what may be expected in a free living male bee, and has implications for our understanding of biological activity patterns and the evolution of forest pollinators.
Satellite tracking of red-listed nominate lesser black-backed gulls ( Larus f. fuscus ) : Habitat specialisation in foraging movements raises novel conservation needs
2017, Juvaste, Risto, Arriero, Elena, Gagliardo, Anna, Holland, Richard A., Huttunen, Markku J., Mueller, Inge, Thorup, Kasper, Wikelski, Martin, Hannila, Juhani, Penttinen, Maija-Liisa, Wistbacka, Ralf
In contrast to many other gull species, nominate lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus fuscus, nLBBG) have shown generally decreasing population trends throughout their breeding area in northern and eastern Fennoscandia over the past decades and are now red-listed. Interspecific competition, predation, increased disturbance, organochlorine poisoning and food shortages were suggested as main reasons for the overall decrease. Here we contribute to a better understanding of population declines by comparing foraging movements of satellite tracked adult gulls in three geographical areas of Finland (West, South, and East) that differ in their population trends. Our analysis examines potential differences and preferences in the feeding site behaviour of adult gulls. Our comparison of the three geographical areas showed that nLBBGs preferred feeding at fur farms in West Finland, waste dumps in South Finland, and lakes and fields in East Finland. We found individual gulls of this purportedly generalist species to be highly specialised in their foraging behaviour, particularly those that might be associated with their survival probabilities. We hypothesise that differences in foraging behaviour and food availability during the breeding season are partially responsible for differences in demographic trends between populations. Specifically, we identify potential local conservation problems such as shooting in birds visiting fur farms. Our data suggest that the effective conservation and management of endangered nLBBGs could be aided by simple actions in the breeding areas in addition to better protection throughout the annual movement cycle.
Flexibility of Continental Navigation and Migration in European Mallards
2013, Toor, Marielle L. van, Hedenström, Anders, Waldenström, Jonas, Fiedler, Wolfgang, Holland, Richard A., Thorup, Kasper, Wikelski, Martin
The ontogeny of continent-wide navigation mechanisms of the individual organism, despite being crucial for the understanding of animal movement and migration, is still poorly understood. Several previous studies, mainly conducted on passerines, indicate that inexperienced, juvenile birds may not generally correct for displacement during fall migration. Waterbirds such as the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos, Linnaeus 1758) are more flexible in their migration behavior than most migratory songbirds, but previous experiments with waterbirds have not yet allowed clear conclusions about their navigation abilities. Here we tested whether immature mallard ducks correct for latitudinal displacement during fall migration within Europe. During two consecutive fall migration periods, we caught immature females on a stopover site in southeast Sweden, and translocated a group of them ca. 1,000 km to southern Germany. We followed the movements of the ducks via satellite GPS-tracking and observed their migration decisions during the fall and consecutive spring migration. The control animals released in Ottenby behaved as expected from banding recoveries: they continued migration during the winter and in spring returned to the population’s breeding grounds in the Baltics and Northwest Russia. Contrary to the control animals, the translocated mallards did not continue migration and stayed at Lake Constance. In spring, three types of movement tactics could be observed: 61.5% of the ducks (16 of 26) stayed around Lake Constance, 27% (7 of 26) migrated in a northerly direction towards Sweden and 11.5% of the individuals (3 of 26) headed east for ca. 1,000 km and then north. We suggest that young female mallards flexibly adjust their migration tactics and develop a navigational map that allows them to return to their natal breeding area.
Emergence time and foraging activity in Pallas' mastiff bat, Molossus molossus (Chiroptera: Molossidae) in relation to sunset/sunrise and phase of the moon
2011, Holland, Richard A., Meyer, Christoph F. J., Kalko, Elisabeth K. V., Kays, Roland, Wikelski, Martin
The decision on when to emerge from the safety of a roost and forage for prey is thought to be a result of the trade off between peak insect abundance and predation pressure for bats. In this study we show that the velvety free-tailed bat Molossus molossus emerges just after sunset and just before sunrise for very short foraging bouts (average 82.2 min foraging per night). Contrary to previous studies, bats remain inactive in their roost between activity patterns. Activity was measured over two complete lunar cycles and there was no indication that phase of the moon had an influence on emergence time or the numbers of bats that emerged from the roost. This data suggests that M. molossus represents an example of an aerial hawking bat whose foraging behaviour is in fact adapted to the compromise between the need to exploit highest prey availability and the need to avoid predation.
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.
Orientation of vagrant birds on the Faroe Islands in the Atlantic Ocean
2012, Thorup, Kasper, Ortvad, Troels Eske, Holland, Richard A., Rabøl, Jørgen, Kristensen, Mikkel Willemoes, Wikelski, Martin
Migratory birds are frequently found far outside their normal range but the phenomenon is poorly understood. We used radio telemetry to track individual migratory flights of several species of songbirds on the Faroe Islands, far west of their normal migration route. Birds with expected easterly and south-easterly migration direction departed westwards out over the Atlantic Ocean, indicating that these birds are actively flying in the “wrong” direction and that their occurrence is not caused by wind drift. This is in contrast to the apparently normal south-westerly to easterly departure directions in birds expected to migrate south or southwest.
Understanding the Migratory Orientation Program of Birds : Extending Laboratory Studies to Study Free-Flying Migrants in a Natural Setting
2010, Thorup, Kasper, Holland, Richard A., Tøttrup, Anders P., Wikelski, Martin
For many years, orientation in migratory birds has primarily been studied in the laboratory. Although a laboratory-based setting enables greater control over environmental cues, the laboratory-based findings must be confirmed in the wild in free-flying birds to be able to fully understand how birds orient during migration. Despite the difficulties associated with following free-flying birds over long distances, a number of possibilities currently exist for tracking the long distance, sometimes even globe-spanning, journeys undertaken by migrating birds. Birds fitted with radio transmitters can either be located from the ground or from aircraft (conventional tracking), or from space. Alternatively, positional information obtained by onboard equipment (e.g., GPS units) can be transmitted to receivers in space. Use of these tracking methods has provided a wealth of information on migratory behaviors that are otherwise very difficult to study. Here, we focus on the progress in understanding certain components of the migration-orientation system. Comparably exciting results can be expected in the future from tracking free-flying migrants in the wild. Use of orientation cues has been studied in migrating raptors (satellite telemetry) and thrushes (conventional telemetry), highlighting that findings in the natural setting may not always be as expected on the basis of cage-experiments. Furthermore, field tracking methods combined with experimental approaches have finally allowed for an extension of the paradigmatic displacement experiments performed by Perdeck in 1958 on the short-distance, social migrant, the starling, to long-distance migrating storks and long-distance, non-socially migrating passerines. Results from these studies provide fundamental insights into the nature of the migratory orientation system that enables experienced birds to navigate and guide inexperienced, young birds to their species-specific winter grounds.