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Far eastern curlew and whimbrel prefer flying low - wind support and good visibility appear only secondary factors in determining migratory flight altitude

Galtbalt, Batbayar, Lilleyman, A, Coleman, JT, Cheng, C, Ma, Z, Rogers, DI, Woodworth, BK, Fuller, RA, Garnett, ST and Klaassen, Marcel 2021, Far eastern curlew and whimbrel prefer flying low - wind support and good visibility appear only secondary factors in determining migratory flight altitude, Movement ecology, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-12, doi: 10.1186/s40462-021-00267-5.

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Title Far eastern curlew and whimbrel prefer flying low - wind support and good visibility appear only secondary factors in determining migratory flight altitude
Author(s) Galtbalt, Batbayar
Lilleyman, A
Coleman, JT
Cheng, C
Ma, Z
Rogers, DI
Woodworth, BK
Fuller, RA
Garnett, ST
Klaassen, MarcelORCID iD for Klaassen, Marcel orcid.org/0000-0003-3907-9599
Journal name Movement ecology
Volume number 9
Issue number 1
Article ID 32
Start page 1
End page 12
Total pages 12
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2021
ISSN 2051-3933
2051-3933
Keyword(s) Air temperature
Altitude selection
Atmospheric condition
Ecology
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Migration
Science & Technology
Shorebird
Weather
Summary Background In-flight conditions are hypothesized to influence the timing and success of long-distance migration. Wind assistance and thermal uplift are thought to reduce the energetic costs of flight, humidity, air pressure and temperature may affect the migrants’ water balance, and clouds may impede navigation. Recent advances in animal-borne long-distance tracking enable evaluating the importance of these factors in determining animals’ flight altitude. Methods Here we determine the effects of wind, humidity, temperature, cloud cover, and altitude (as proxy for climbing costs and air pressure) on flight altitude selection of two long-distance migratory shorebirds, far eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) and whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus). To reveal the predominant drivers of flight altitude selection during migration we compared the atmospheric conditions at the altitude the birds were found flying with conditions elsewhere in the air column using conditional logistic mixed effect models. Results Our results demonstrate that despite occasional high-altitude migrations (up to 5550 m above ground level), our study species typically forego flying at high altitudes, limiting climbing costs and potentially alleviating water loss and facilitating navigation. While mainly preferring migrating at low altitude, notably in combination with low air temperature, the birds also preferred flying with wind support to likely reduce flight costs. They avoided clouds, perhaps to help navigation or to reduce the risks from adverse weather. Conclusions We conclude that the primary determinant of avian migrant’s flight altitude selection is a preference for low altitude, with wind support as an important secondary factor. Our approach and findings can assist in predicting climate change effects on migration and in mitigating bird strikes with air traffic, wind farms, power lines, and other human-made structures.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/s40462-021-00267-5
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 0502 Environmental Science and Management
0602 Ecology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30152808

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.