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Assessing vector navigation in long-distance migrating birds

Åkesson, Susanne LU and Bianco, Giuseppe LU (2016) In Behavioral Ecology 27(3). p.865-875
Abstract

Birds migrating between distant locations regularly perform long continuous flights lasting several days. What compass mechanism they use is still a mystery. Here, we use a novel approach, applying an individual-based model, taking compass mechanisms based on celestial and geomagnetic information and wind into account simultaneously, to investigate what compass mechanism likely is used during long continuous flights and how wind drift or compensation affects the resulting tracks. We found that for the 6 cases of long continuous migration flights, the magnetoclinic route could best explain the route selection in all except one case compared with the alternative compass mechanisms. A flight strategy correcting for wind drift resulted most... (More)

Birds migrating between distant locations regularly perform long continuous flights lasting several days. What compass mechanism they use is still a mystery. Here, we use a novel approach, applying an individual-based model, taking compass mechanisms based on celestial and geomagnetic information and wind into account simultaneously, to investigate what compass mechanism likely is used during long continuous flights and how wind drift or compensation affects the resulting tracks. We found that for the 6 cases of long continuous migration flights, the magnetoclinic route could best explain the route selection in all except one case compared with the alternative compass mechanisms. A flight strategy correcting for wind drift resulted most often in routes ending up closest to the predicted destinations. In only half of the cases could a time-compensated sun compass explain the migration routes observed with sufficient precision. Migration from Europe to the Siberian tundra was especially challenging to explain by one compass mechanism alone, suggesting a more complex navigation strategy. Our results speak in favor of a magnetic compass based on the angle of inclination used by birds during continuous long-distance migration flights, but also a capacity to detect and correct for drift caused by winds along the route.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Avian orientation, Compass orientation, Magnetoclinic route, Migration routes, Wind compensation
in
Behavioral Ecology
volume
27
issue
3
pages
11 pages
publisher
Oxford University Press
external identifiers
  • scopus:84978882421
  • wos:000381224500029
ISSN
1045-2249
DOI
10.1093/beheco/arv231
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
3ce2f9aa-1934-4604-9902-96bbe44076b3
date added to LUP
2017-02-02 13:15:35
date last changed
2017-10-22 05:25:50
@article{3ce2f9aa-1934-4604-9902-96bbe44076b3,
  abstract     = {<p>Birds migrating between distant locations regularly perform long continuous flights lasting several days. What compass mechanism they use is still a mystery. Here, we use a novel approach, applying an individual-based model, taking compass mechanisms based on celestial and geomagnetic information and wind into account simultaneously, to investigate what compass mechanism likely is used during long continuous flights and how wind drift or compensation affects the resulting tracks. We found that for the 6 cases of long continuous migration flights, the magnetoclinic route could best explain the route selection in all except one case compared with the alternative compass mechanisms. A flight strategy correcting for wind drift resulted most often in routes ending up closest to the predicted destinations. In only half of the cases could a time-compensated sun compass explain the migration routes observed with sufficient precision. Migration from Europe to the Siberian tundra was especially challenging to explain by one compass mechanism alone, suggesting a more complex navigation strategy. Our results speak in favor of a magnetic compass based on the angle of inclination used by birds during continuous long-distance migration flights, but also a capacity to detect and correct for drift caused by winds along the route.</p>},
  author       = {Åkesson, Susanne and Bianco, Giuseppe},
  issn         = {1045-2249},
  keyword      = {Avian orientation,Compass orientation,Magnetoclinic route,Migration routes,Wind compensation},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {05},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {865--875},
  publisher    = {Oxford University Press},
  series       = {Behavioral Ecology},
  title        = {Assessing vector navigation in long-distance migrating birds},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arv231},
  volume       = {27},
  year         = {2016},
}