The roller coaster flight strategy of bar-headed geese conserves energy during Himalayan migrations

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2015
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Bishop, Charles M.
Spivey, Robin J.
Hawkes, Lucy A.
Batbayar, Nyambayar
Chua, B.
Frappell, Peter B.
Milsom, William K.
Natsagdorj, Tseveenmyadag
Newman, Scott H.
Scott, Graham R.
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The physiological and biomechanical requirements of flight at high altitude have been the subject of much interest. Here, we uncover a steep relation between heart rate and wingbeat frequency (raised to the exponent 3.5) and estimated metabolic power and wingbeat frequency (exponent 7) of migratory bar-headed geese. Flight costs increase more rapidly than anticipated as air density declines, which overturns prevailing expectations that this species should maintain high-altitude flight when traversing the Himalayas. Instead, a “roller coaster” strategy, of tracking the underlying terrain and discarding large altitude gains only to recoup them later in the flight with occasional benefits from orographic lift, is shown to be energetically advantageous for flights over the Himalayas.

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ISO 690BISHOP, Charles M., Robin J. SPIVEY, Lucy A. HAWKES, Nyambayar BATBAYAR, B. CHUA, Peter B. FRAPPELL, William K. MILSOM, Tseveenmyadag NATSAGDORJ, Scott H. NEWMAN, Graham R. SCOTT, John Y. TAKEKAWA, Martin WIKELSKI, Pat J. BUTLER, 2015. The roller coaster flight strategy of bar-headed geese conserves energy during Himalayan migrations. In: Science. 2015, 347(6219), pp. 250-254. ISSN 0036-8075. eISSN 1095-9203. Available under: doi: 10.1126/science.1258732
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@article{Bishop2015rolle-30688,
  year={2015},
  doi={10.1126/science.1258732},
  title={The roller coaster flight strategy of bar-headed geese conserves energy during Himalayan migrations},
  number={6219},
  volume={347},
  issn={0036-8075},
  journal={Science},
  pages={250--254},
  author={Bishop, Charles M. and Spivey, Robin J. and Hawkes, Lucy A. and Batbayar, Nyambayar and Chua, B. and Frappell, Peter B. and Milsom, William K. and Natsagdorj, Tseveenmyadag and Newman, Scott H. and Scott, Graham R. and Takekawa, John Y. and Wikelski, Martin and Butler, Pat J.}
}
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