Feasibility of sun and magnetic compass mechanisms in avian long-distance migration

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Birds use different compass mechanisms based on celestial (stars, sun, skylight polarization pattern) and geomagnetic cues for orientation. Yet, much remains to be understood how birds actually use these compass mechanisms on their long-distance migratory journeys. Here, we assess in more detail the consequences of using different sun and magnetic compass mechanisms for the resulting bird migration routes during both autumn and spring migration. First, we calculated predicted flight routes to determine which of the compasses mechanisms lead to realistic and feasible migration routes starting at different latitudes during autumn and spring migration. We then compared the adaptive values of the different compass mechanisms by calculating distance ratios in relation to the shortest possible trajectory for three populations of nocturnal passerine migrants: northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe, pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca, and willow warbler Phylloscopus trochilus. Finally, we compared the predicted trajectories for different compass strategies with observed routes based on recent light-level geolocation tracking results for five individuals of northern wheatears migrating between Alaska and tropical Africa. We conclude that the feasibility of different compass routes varies greatly with latitude, migratory direction, migration season, and geographic location. Routes following a single compass course throughout the migratory journey are feasible for many bird populations, but the underlying compass mechanisms likely differ between populations. In many cases, however, the birds likely have to reorient once to a few times along the migration route and/or use map information to successfully reach their migratory destination.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Institute of Avian Research “Vogelwarte Helgoland”
  • Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology

Keywords

  • Bird migration, Magnetic compass, Orientation, Sun compass
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalMovement Ecology
Volume6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 6
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

Related projects

Niklas Larsson, Atticus Pinzon-Rodriguez, Arne Hegemann, Brianne Addison, Charlie Cornwallis, Giuseppe Bianco, INGRID SASSENHAGEN, Jerker Vinterstare, Julian Melgar, Julio Neto, Lasse Jakobsen, Mikael Ekvall, Mihaela Ilieva, Natalia Annenkova, Pallavi Chauhan, Sylvie Tesson, Yannis Vardanis, Catherine Tayleur, Emily Baird, Olle Lind, Jakob Löndahl, Tina Santl-Temkiv, Anders Hedenström, Åke Lindström, Anders Nilsson, Bengt Hansson, Dennis Hasselquist, Erik Svensson, Henrik Smith, Helena Westerdahl, Jan-Åke Nilsson, Johan Bäckman, Katarina Hedlund, Lars Råberg, Maria Ingimarsdottir, Martin Green, Maria Sandell, Martin Stjernman, Nils Kjellén, Ola Olsson, Rachel Muheim, Richard Ottvall, Staffan Bensch, Xiuhong Yang, Sara Snogerup-Linse, Heiner Linke, Mikkel Brydegaard Sorensen, Patrik Lundin, Sune Svanberg, Zuguang Guan, Ann-Sofie Albrekt, Anders Hargeby, Anders Persson, Christer Brönmark, Emma Kritzberg, Karin Rengefors, Lars-Anders Hansson, Olof Berglund, Wilhelm Granéli, Alice Nicolle, Ben Chapman, Christian Skov, Johan Ahlgren, Jakob Brodersen, Jessica von Einem, Kaj Hulthén, Kelly Gutseit, Karen Lebret, Lynn Ranåker, MATTIAS EKVALL, Mercy Lard, MIKAEL JÖNSSON, PER HALLGREN, Peter Ljungberg, Samuel Hylander, Tony Fagerberg, Therese Jephson, Tomas Johansson, Bjorn Canback, Bengt Danielsson, Christoffer Johansson, Emma Ådahl, Florian Muijres, Jörgen Ripa, Melissa Bowlin, Niclas Jonzén, Per Henningsson, Roger Härdling, Andreas Nord, Arzu Gursoy, Asghar Muhammad, Anna Nilsson, Anna Runemark, Barbara Tschirren, Cecilia Nilsson, Håkan Karlsson, Irene Pala, Juliana Dänhardt, Johan Nilsson, Jens Rydell, Jonas Waldenström, Keith Larson, Kristina Karlsson, Kristin Scherman, Mikael Åkesson, Martin Andersson, Maja Tarka, Maren Wellenreuther, Max Lundberg, Miriam Liedvogel, Maj Rundlöf, Martin Wintersparv Stervander, Machteld Verzijden, Olof Hellgren, Raymond Klaassen, Roine Strandberg, Susanne Åkesson, SANDRA SKÖLD CHIRIAC, Sophia Engel, Sissel Sjöberg, Sara Naurin, Thomas Alerstam, Tom J Evans, Torbjörn von Schantz, Ulf Ottosson, Marie Dacke & Helena Osvath

2008/06/012018/12/31

Project: Research

View all (1)