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Carrying large fuel loads during sustained bird flight is cheaper than expected

Kvist, Anders LU ; Lindström, Åke LU ; Green, Martin LU ; Piersma, T and Visser, GH (2001) In Nature 413(6857). p.730-732
Abstract
Birds on migration alternate between consuming fuel stores during flights and accumulating fuel stores during stopovers. The optimal timing and length of flights and stopovers for successful migration depend heavily on the extra metabolic power input (fuel use) required to carry the fuel stores during flight(1,2). The effect of large fuel loads on metabolic power input has never been empirically determined. We measured the total metabolic power input of a long-distance migrant, the red knot (Calidris canutus), flying for 6 to 10 h in a wind tunnel, using the doubly labelled water technique(3). Here we show that total metabolic power input increased with fuel load, but proportionally less than the predicted mechanical power output from the... (More)
Birds on migration alternate between consuming fuel stores during flights and accumulating fuel stores during stopovers. The optimal timing and length of flights and stopovers for successful migration depend heavily on the extra metabolic power input (fuel use) required to carry the fuel stores during flight(1,2). The effect of large fuel loads on metabolic power input has never been empirically determined. We measured the total metabolic power input of a long-distance migrant, the red knot (Calidris canutus), flying for 6 to 10 h in a wind tunnel, using the doubly labelled water technique(3). Here we show that total metabolic power input increased with fuel load, but proportionally less than the predicted mechanical power output from the flight muscles. The most likely explanation is that the efficiency with which metabolic power input is converted into mechanical output by the flight muscles increases with fuel load. This will influence current models of bird flight and bird migration. It may also help to explain why some shorebirds, despite the high metabolic power input required to fly, routinely make nonstop flights of 4,000 km longer(4). (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Nature
volume
413
issue
6857
pages
730 - 732
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:0035909315
ISSN
0028-0836
DOI
10.1038/35099556
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
19db3a05-9d5d-449e-aa35-c8996a7b14b4 (old id 145715)
date added to LUP
2007-06-26 09:01:35
date last changed
2018-06-17 04:01:12
@article{19db3a05-9d5d-449e-aa35-c8996a7b14b4,
  abstract     = {Birds on migration alternate between consuming fuel stores during flights and accumulating fuel stores during stopovers. The optimal timing and length of flights and stopovers for successful migration depend heavily on the extra metabolic power input (fuel use) required to carry the fuel stores during flight(1,2). The effect of large fuel loads on metabolic power input has never been empirically determined. We measured the total metabolic power input of a long-distance migrant, the red knot (Calidris canutus), flying for 6 to 10 h in a wind tunnel, using the doubly labelled water technique(3). Here we show that total metabolic power input increased with fuel load, but proportionally less than the predicted mechanical power output from the flight muscles. The most likely explanation is that the efficiency with which metabolic power input is converted into mechanical output by the flight muscles increases with fuel load. This will influence current models of bird flight and bird migration. It may also help to explain why some shorebirds, despite the high metabolic power input required to fly, routinely make nonstop flights of 4,000 km longer(4).},
  author       = {Kvist, Anders and Lindström, Åke and Green, Martin and Piersma, T and Visser, GH},
  issn         = {0028-0836},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6857},
  pages        = {730--732},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature},
  title        = {Carrying large fuel loads during sustained bird flight is cheaper than expected},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/35099556},
  volume       = {413},
  year         = {2001},
}