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How hazardous is the Sahara Desert crossing for migratory birds? Indications from satellite tracking of raptors.

Strandberg, Roine LU ; Klaassen, Raymond LU ; Hake, Mikael and Alerstam, Thomas LU (2010) In Biology Letters 6. p.297-300
Abstract
We investigated the risk associated with crossing the Sahara Desert for migrating birds by evaluating more than 90 journeys across this desert by four species of raptors (osprey Pandion haliaetus, honey buzzard Pernis apivorus, marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus and Eurasian hobby Falco subbuteo) recorded by satellite telemetry. Forty per cent of the crossings included events of aberrant behaviours, such as abrupt course changes, slow travel speeds, interruptions, aborted crossings followed by retreats from the desert and failed crossings due to death, indicating difficulties for the migrants. The mortality during the Sahara crossing was 31 per cent per crossing attempt for juveniles (first autumn migration), compared with only 2 per cent... (More)
We investigated the risk associated with crossing the Sahara Desert for migrating birds by evaluating more than 90 journeys across this desert by four species of raptors (osprey Pandion haliaetus, honey buzzard Pernis apivorus, marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus and Eurasian hobby Falco subbuteo) recorded by satellite telemetry. Forty per cent of the crossings included events of aberrant behaviours, such as abrupt course changes, slow travel speeds, interruptions, aborted crossings followed by retreats from the desert and failed crossings due to death, indicating difficulties for the migrants. The mortality during the Sahara crossing was 31 per cent per crossing attempt for juveniles (first autumn migration), compared with only 2 per cent for adults (autumn and spring combined). Mortality associated with the Sahara passage made up a substantial fraction (up to about half for juveniles) of the total annual mortality, demonstrating that this passage has a profound influence on survival and fitness of migrants. Aberrant behaviours resulted in late arrival at the breeding grounds and an increased probability of breeding failure (carry-over effects). This study also demonstrates that satellite tracking can be a powerful method to reveal when and where birds are exposed to enhanced risk and mortality during their annual cycles. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Biology Letters
volume
6
pages
297 - 300
publisher
Royal Society
external identifiers
  • wos:000277559000004
  • scopus:77953339945
ISSN
1744-9561
DOI
10.1098/rsbl.2009.0785
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
e14b9a35-ffdf-4335-8803-07b763aa7a9f (old id 1524090)
date added to LUP
2010-01-11 13:13:19
date last changed
2018-06-24 03:38:42
@article{e14b9a35-ffdf-4335-8803-07b763aa7a9f,
  abstract     = {We investigated the risk associated with crossing the Sahara Desert for migrating birds by evaluating more than 90 journeys across this desert by four species of raptors (osprey Pandion haliaetus, honey buzzard Pernis apivorus, marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus and Eurasian hobby Falco subbuteo) recorded by satellite telemetry. Forty per cent of the crossings included events of aberrant behaviours, such as abrupt course changes, slow travel speeds, interruptions, aborted crossings followed by retreats from the desert and failed crossings due to death, indicating difficulties for the migrants. The mortality during the Sahara crossing was 31 per cent per crossing attempt for juveniles (first autumn migration), compared with only 2 per cent for adults (autumn and spring combined). Mortality associated with the Sahara passage made up a substantial fraction (up to about half for juveniles) of the total annual mortality, demonstrating that this passage has a profound influence on survival and fitness of migrants. Aberrant behaviours resulted in late arrival at the breeding grounds and an increased probability of breeding failure (carry-over effects). This study also demonstrates that satellite tracking can be a powerful method to reveal when and where birds are exposed to enhanced risk and mortality during their annual cycles.},
  author       = {Strandberg, Roine and Klaassen, Raymond and Hake, Mikael and Alerstam, Thomas},
  issn         = {1744-9561},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {297--300},
  publisher    = {Royal Society},
  series       = {Biology Letters},
  title        = {How hazardous is the Sahara Desert crossing for migratory birds? Indications from satellite tracking of raptors.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2009.0785},
  volume       = {6},
  year         = {2010},
}