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Very rapid long-distance sea crossing by a migratory bird

Very rapid long-distance sea crossing by a migratory bird

Title: Very rapid long-distance sea crossing by a migratory bird
Author: Alves, Jose   orcid.org/0000-0001-7182-0936
Dias, Maria P.
Méndez, Verónica
Katrínardóttir, Borgný
Gunnarsson, Tomas Gretar   orcid.org/0000-0001-7692-0637
Date: 2016-11-30
Language: English
Scope: 38154
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
Department: Rannsóknasetur Suðurlandi (HÍ)
Research Centre in South Iceland (UI)
Series: Scientific Reports;6(1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
DOI: 10.1038/srep38154
Subject: Animal migration; Behavioural ecology; Far dýra; Vistfræði; Vaðfuglar
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/394

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Alves, J. A., Dias, M. P., Méndez, V., Katrínardóttir, B., & Gunnarsson, T. G. (2016). Very rapid long-distance sea crossing by a migratory bird. 6, 38154. doi:10.1038/srep38154


Landbirds undertaking within-continent migrations have the possibility to stop en route, but most long-distance migrants must also undertake large non-stop sea crossings, the length of which can vary greatly. For shorebirds migrating from Iceland to West Africa, the shortest route would involve one of the longest continuous sea crossings while alternative, mostly overland, routes are available. Using geolocators to track the migration of Icelandic whimbrels (Numenius phaeopus), we show that they can complete a round-trip of 11,000 km making two non-stop sea crossings and flying at speeds of up to 24 m s−1; one of the fastest recorded for shorebirds flying over the ocean. Although wind support could reduce flight energetic costs, whimbrels faced headwinds up to twice their ground speed, indicating that unfavourable and potentially fatal weather conditions are not uncommon. Such apparently high risk migrations might be more common than previously thought, with potential fitness gains outweighing the costs.


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