Negotiating an ecological barrier: Crossing the Sahara in relation to winds by common swifts

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

Abstract

The Sahara Desert is one of the largest land-based barriers on the Earth, crossed twice each year by billions of birds on migration. Here we investigate how common swifts migrating between breeding sites in Sweden and wintering areas in sub-Saharan Africa perform the desert crossing with respect to route choice, winds, timing and speed of migration by analysing 72 geolocator tracks recording migration. The swifts crosswestern Sahara on a broad front in autumn, while in spring they seem to use three alternative routes across the Sahara, awestern, a central and an eastern route across the Arabian Peninsula, with most birds using the western route. The swifts show slower migration and travel speeds, and make longer detours with more stops in autumn compared with spring. In spring, the stopover period in West Africa coincided with mostly favourable winds, but birds remained in the area, suggesting fuelling. The western route provided more tailwind assistance compared with the central route for our tracked swifts in spring, but not in autumn. The ultimate explanation for the evolution of a preferred western route is presumably a combination of matching rich foraging conditions (swarming insects) and favourable winds enabling fast spring migration.

Detaljer

Författare
Enheter & grupper
Forskningsområden

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Biologiska vetenskaper

Nyckelord

Originalspråkengelska
Artikelnummer20150393
TidskriftPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volym371
Utgåva nummer1704
StatusPublished - 2016 sep 26
PublikationskategoriForskning
Peer review utfördJa

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