Seasonal survival probabilities suggest low migration mortality in migrating bats.
ABSTRACT: Migration is adaptive if survival benefits are larger than costs of residency. Many aspects of bat migration ecology such as migratory costs, stopover site use and fidelity are largely unknown. Since many migrating bats are endangered, such information is urgently needed to promote conservation. We selected the migrating Leisler's bat (Nyctalus leisleri) as model species and collected capture-recapture data in southern Switzerland year round during 6 years. We estimated seasonal survival and site fidelity with Cormack-Jolly-Seber models that accounted for the presence of transients fitted with Bayesian methods and assessed differences between sexes and seasons. Activity peaked in autumn and spring, whereas very few individuals were caught during summer. We hypothesize that the study site is a migratory stopover site used during fall and spring migration for most individuals, but there is also evidence for wintering. Additionally, we found strong clues for mating during fall. Summer survival that included two major migratory journeys was identical to winter survival in males and slightly higher in females, suggesting that the migratory journeys did not bear significant costs in terms of survival. Transience probability was in both seasons higher in males than in females. Our results suggest that, similarly to birds, Leisler's bat also use stopover sites during migration with high site fidelity. In contrast to most birds, the stopover site was also used for mating and migratory costs in terms of survival seemed to be low. Transients' analyses highlighted strong individual variation in site use which makes particularly challenging the study and modelling of their populations as well as their conservation.
Project description:Climate change is predicted to increase migration distances for many migratory species, but the physiological and temporal implications of longer migratory journeys have not been explored. Here, we combine information about species' flight range potential and migratory refuelling requirements to simulate the number of stopovers required and the duration of current migratory journeys for 77 bird species breeding in Europe. Using tracking data, we show that our estimates accord with recorded journey times and stopovers for most species. We then combine projections of altered migratory distances under climate change with models of avian flight to predict future migratory journeys. We find that 37% of migratory journeys undertaken by long-distance migrants will necessitate an additional stopover in future. These greater distances and the increased number of stops will substantially increase overall journey durations of many long-distance migratory species, a factor not currently considered in climate impact studies.
Project description:The phases of the annual cycle for migratory species are inextricably linked. Yet, less than five percent of ecological studies examine seasonal interactions. In this study, we utilized stable hydrogen isotopes to geographically link individual black-and-white warblers (Mniotilta varia) captured during spring migration with breeding destinations to understand a migrant's stopover strategy in the context of other phases of the annual cycle. We found that stopover strategy is not only a function of a bird's current energetic state, but also the distance remaining to breeding destination and a bird's time-schedule, which has previously been linked to habitat conditions experienced in the preceding phase of the annual cycle. Birds in close proximity to their breeding destination accumulate additional energy reserves prior to arrival on the breeding grounds, as reflected by higher migratory condition upon arrival, higher refueling rates measured via blood plasma metabolites, and longer stopover durations compared to birds migrating to breeding destinations farther from the stopover site. However, late birds near their breeding destination were more likely to depart on the day of arrival (i.e., transients), and among birds that stopped over at the site, the average duration of stopover was almost half the time of early conspecifics, suggesting late birds are trying to catch-up with the overall time-schedule of migration for optimal arrival time on the breeding grounds. In contrast, birds with long distances remaining to breeding destinations were more likely to depart on the day of arrival and primarily used stopover to rest before quickly resuming migration, adopting similar strategies regardless of a bird's time-schedule. Our study demonstrates that migrants adjust their en route strategies in relation to their time-schedule and distance remaining to their breeding destination, highlighting that strategies of migration should be examined in the context of other phases of the annual cycle.
Project description:Long-distance migratory organisms are under strong selection to migrate quickly. Stopovers demand more time than flying and are used by individuals to refuel during migration, but the effect of fuel loads (fat) acquired at stopover sites on the subsequent pace of migration has not been quantified. We studied stopover behaviour of Grey-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) at a site in northern Colombia and then tracked their migration using an intercontinental radio-telemetry array. Tracking confirmed long-distance flights of more than 3000?km, highlighting the key importance of a single stopover site to the migration strategy of this species. Our results suggest that these songbirds behave as time-minimizers as predicted by optimal migration theory, and that fuel loads acquired at this South American stopover site, together with departure date, carry-over to influence the pace of migration, contributing to differences in travel time of up to 30 days in birds subsequently detected in the U. S. and Canada. Such variation in the pace of migration arising from a single stopover site, likely has important fitness consequences and suggests that identifying important fuelling sites will be essential to effectively conserve migratory species.
Project description:In many animals, catabolic and anabolic periods are temporally separated. Migratory birds alternate energy expenditure during flight with energy accumulation during stopover. The size of the energy stores at stopover affects the decision to resume migration and thus the temporal organization of migration. We now provide data suggesting that it is not only the size of the energy stores per se that may influence migration scheduling, but also the physiological consequences of flying. In two subspecies of the northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe, a long-distance migrant, estimated energy stores at a stopover during autumn migration were positively related with both constitutive innate and acquired immune function, and negatively related with oxidative damage to lipids. In other words, migrants' physiological condition was associated with their energetic condition. Although time spent at stopover before sampling may have contributed to this relationship, our results suggest that migrants have to trade-off the depletion of energy stores during flight with incurring physiological costs. This will affect migrants' decisions when to start and when to terminate a migratory flight. The physiological costs associated with the depletion of energy stores may also help explaining why migrants often arrive at and depart from stopover sites with larger energy stores than expected. We propose that studies on the role of energy stores as drivers of the temporal organization of (avian) migration need to consider physiological condition, such as immunological and oxidative states.
Project description:To successfully perform their long-distance migrations, migratory birds require sites along their migratory routes to rest and refuel. Monitoring the use of so-called stopover and staging sites provides insights into (a) the timing of migration and (b) the importance of a site for migratory bird populations. A recently developed Bayesian superpopulation model that integrates mark-recapture data and ring density data enabled the estimation of stopover timing, duration, and population size. Yet, this model did not account for heterogeneity in encounter (p) and staying (ϕ) probabilities.Here we extended the integrated superpopulation model by implementing finite mixtures to account for heterogeneity in p and ϕ. We used simulations and real data (from 2009-2016) on red knots Calidris canutus, mostly of the subspecies piersmai, staging in Bohai Bay, China, during spring migration to (a) show the importance of accounting for heterogeneity in encounter and staying probabilities to get unbiased estimates of stopover timing, duration, and numbers of migratory birds at staging sites and (b) get accurate stopover parameter estimates for a migratory bird species at a key staging site that is threatened by habitat destruction.Our simulations confirmed that heterogeneity in p affected stopover parameter estimates more than heterogeneity in ϕ, especially when most birds had low p. Bias was particularly severe when most birds had both low ϕ and p. Bias was largest for population size, intermediate for stopover duration and negligible for stopover timing.A total of 50,000-100,000 red knots were estimated to annually stop for 5-9 days in Bohai Bay between 10 and 30 May. This shows the key importance of this staging site for this declining species. There were no clear changes in stopover parameters over time, although stopover population size was substantially lower in 2016 than in preceding years.Our study shows the importance of accounting for heterogeneity in both encounter and staying probabilities for accurately estimating stopover duration and population size and provides an appropriate modeling framework.
Project description:Bird migration entails replenishing fuel stores at stopover sites. There, individuals make daily decisions whether to resume migration, and must also decide their time of departure. Variation in departure timing affects the total time required to complete a migratory journey, which in turn affects fitness through arrival time at the breeding and wintering grounds. It is well established that stopover departure decisions are based on cues from innate rhythms, intrinsic factors and extrinsic factors. Yet, virtually nothing is known about the physiological mechanism(s) linking these cues to departure decisions. Here, we show for a nocturnal migratory songbird, the northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), that baseline corticosterone levels of birds at stopover increased both over the migratory season and with wind assistance towards the migratory destination. Corticosterone in turn predicted departure probability; individuals with high baseline corticosterone levels were more likely to resume migration on a given night. Corticosterone further predicted the departure time within the night, with high baseline levels being associated with early departures. These novel findings indicate that corticosterone may be mediating between departure cues and the timing of departure from a stopover site, which is a major step towards understanding the hormonal control of animal migration.
Project description:Migratory birds rely on a habitat network along their migration routes by temporarily occupying stopover sites between breeding and non-breeding grounds. Removal or degradation of stopover sites in a network might impede movement and thereby reduce migration success and survival. The extent to which the breakdown of migration networks, due to changes in land use, impacts the population sizes of migratory birds is poorly understood. We measured the functional connectivity of migration networks of waterfowl species that migrate over the East Asian-Australasian Flyway from 1992 to 2015. We analysed the relationship between changes in non-breeding population sizes and changes in functional connectivity, while taking into account other commonly considered species traits, using a phylogenetic linear mixed model. We found that population sizes significantly declined with a reduction in the functional connectivity of migration networks; no other variables were important. We conclude that the current decrease in functional connectivity, due to habitat loss and degradation in migration networks, can negatively and crucially impact population sizes of migratory birds. Our findings provide new insights into the underlying mechanisms that affect population trends of migratory birds under environmental changes. Establishment of international agreements leading to the creation of systematic conservation networks associated with migratory species' distributions and stopover sites may safeguard migratory bird populations.
Project description:East Asian migratory waterfowl have greatly declined since the 1950s, especially the populations that winter in China. Conservation is severely hampered by the lack of primary information about migration patterns and stopover sites. This study utilizes satellite tracking techniques and advanced spatial analyses to investigate spring migration of the greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons) and tundra bean goose (Anser serrirostris) wintering along the Yangtze River Floodplain. Based on 24 tracks obtained from 21 individuals during the spring of 2015 and 2016, we found that the Northeast China Plain is far-out the most intensively used stopover site during migration, with geese staying for over 1 month. This region has also been intensely developed for agriculture, suggesting a causal link to the decline in East Asian waterfowl wintering in China. The protection of waterbodies used as roosting area, especially those surrounded by intensive foraging land, is critical for waterfowl survival. Over 90% of the core area used during spring migration is not protected. We suggest that future ground surveys should target these areas to confirm their relevance for migratory waterfowl at the population level, and core roosting area at critical spring-staging sites should be integrated in the network of protected areas along the flyway. Moreover, the potential bird-human conflict in core stopover area needs to be further studied. Our study illustrates how satellite tracking combined with spatial analyses can provide crucial insights necessary to improve the conservation of declining Migratory species.
Project description:Long-distance migrants have developed diverse strategies to deal with the challenges imposed by their annual journeys. These are relatively well studied in some avian groups, such as passerines, shorebirds and raptors. In contrast, few studies have addressed the migratory behaviour of pelagic birds in the light of current theories of optimal migration. Using a dataset of 100 complete migratory tracks gathered along four years, we performed a detailed study on the migratory strategy of a pelagic trans-equatorial migrant, the Cory's shearwater Calonectris diomedea. We analysed daily routines, stopover ecology and travel speed, as well as the influence of the moon on several behavioural patterns. Cory's shearwaters adopted a "fly-and-forage" strategy when migrating, similarly to what has been observed in some raptors. However, by flying by dynamic soaring, shearwaters attained high overall migration speeds, and were able to travel thousands of kilometres without making major stopovers and, apparently, without a noticeable pre-migratory fattening period. Other major findings of this study include the ability to adapt daily schedules when crossing major ecological barriers, and the constant adjustment of migration speed implying higher rates of travel in the pre-breeding movement, with a final sprint to the nesting colony. The present study also highlights a preference of Cory's shearwaters for starting travel at twilight and documents a strong relationship between their migratory activity and the moon phase.
Project description:Abstract Birds have been observed to have dietary preferences for unsaturated fatty acids during migration. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) may increase the exercise performance of migrant birds; however, PUFAs are also peroxidation prone and might therefore incur increased costs in terms of enhanced oxidative damage in migratory individuals. To shed light on this potential constraint, we analyzed plasma fatty acid (FA) composition and estimated the unsaturation index as a proxy for susceptibility to lipid peroxidation of migrants and residents of the partially migratory common blackbird (Turdus merula) at a stopover site during autumn migration. As predicted, migrant birds had higher relative and absolute levels of PUFAs compared to resident birds. This included the strictly dietary ??3 PUFA ??linolenic acid, suggesting a dietary and/or storage preference for these FAs in migrants. Interestingly, the FA unsaturation index did not differ between migrants and residents. These findings suggest a mechanism where birds alter their levels of metabolic substrate without simultaneously increasing the susceptibility of the substrate to lipid peroxidation. In summary, our results are in line with the hypothesis that increased exercise performance during migration might be constrained by oxidative stress, which is manifested in changes in the composition of key FAs to retain the unsaturation index constant despite the increased levels of peroxidizable PUFAs. Migrating blackbirds, Turdus merula, have higher plasma levels of exercise?enhancing polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to resident conspecifics at the same stopover site. High levels of such unsaturated fatty acids may incur costs in terms of increased lipid peroxidation, and hence oxidative stress. Yet, the fatty acid unsaturation index did not differ between migrants and residents, suggesting physiological mechanisms in migrants to mitigate this potential cost.