Skip to main content

Migration strategies of rosefinches

During their seasonal migration, birds typically travel between breeding and non-breeding grounds along migratory routes grouped into major flyways, such as the Indo-European flyway between Europe and the Indian subcontinent.

In a new study published in the Journal of Biogeography, investigators used modelling and tracking techniques to identify potential migratory barriers and corridors within the Indo-European flyway and birds’ adaptive behaviours that help with navigation along the route. 

The study, tracking rosefinches (Carpodacus erythrinus)  from five breeding populations using lightweight global navigation sensors, aimed to determine what factors influenced the birds' migratory paths: wind or resources.

Deserts, oceans and mountains influence weather systems and resource availability and create corridors or barriers for moving animals. Risks have to be balanced against food availability and energy conservation.  Migratory birds have developed several adaptive behaviours that facilitate navigation across or around ecological barriers.  So, do they cross these barriers, or do they go round them?

The research found that migrating birds adopt seasonally distinct migration strategies: following an energy minimization strategy in autumn, driven by resource availability, and a time minimizing strategy in spring, driven by wind conditions. 

“For me, the study started years ago on the coast of the German Baltic Sea. Together with two of my co-authors Roland Neumann and Benjamin Metzger, we caught and tracked Common rosefinches aiming to reveal their exact wintering locations,” said lead author Dr Simeon Lisovski of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. 

“Years later, we found out that other researchers from across Europe did the same and that putting the tracks in perspective can yield more in-depth ecological insights than each single study could provide. Merging these tracks with flyway-wide datasets on climate and habitat has been a super insightful and exciting collaborative experience.”

Raymond Noble is a chartered biologist and Fellow of the Royal Society of biology.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The lion and the wildebeest

Birds flock, fish school, bees swarm, but social being is more than simply sticking together.  Social groups enable specialisation and a sharing of abilities, and enhances ability, learning and creating new tricks. The more a group works together, the more effective they become as a team.  Chimpanzees learn from each other how to use stones to crack nuts, or sticks to get termites.  All around us we see cooperation and learning in nature.  Nature is inherently creative.  Pulling together becomes a rallying cry during a crisis.  We have heard it throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  "We are all in this together", a mantra that encourages people to adopt a common strategy. In an era of 'self-interest' and 'survival of the fittest,'  and 'selfish gene', we lose sight of the obvious conclusion from the evidence all around us.   Sticking together is more often the better approach.  This is valid for the lion as it is also for the wildebeest.   We don't

Noise pollution puts nature at risk

 "I just want a bit of peace and quiet!" Let's get away from all the hustle and bustle; the sound of endless traffic on the roads, of the trains on the railway, and the planes in the sky; the incessant drone; the noise. We live in a world of man-made noise; screeching, bellowing, on-and-on in an unmelodious cacophony.  This constant background noise has now become a significant health hazard.   With average background levels of 60 decibels, those who live in cities are often exposed to noise over 85 decibels, enough to cause significant hearing loss over time.  It causes stress, high blood pressure, headache and loss of sleep and poor health and well-being.   In nature, noise has content and significance.  From the roar of the lion, the laughing of a hyena,  communication is essential for life; as the warning of danger, for bonding as a group or a pair, finding a mate, or for establishing a position in a hierarchy - chattering works.  Staying in touch is vital to working

Therapeutic animal stress

Interacting with animals is known to be therapeutic,  particularly in reducing stress.  But do we consider sufficiently the effects this may have on the animals involved?   We might assume that because it is calming for us, then it must be so for the therapeutic animals, but is this so?  New research suggests that it isn't always without stress for the animals involved.  Positive human-animal interaction relates to changes in physiological variables both in humans and other animals, including a reduction of subjective psychological stress (fear, anxiety) and an increase of oxytocin levels in the brain.  It also reduces the 'stress' hormone, cortisol. Indeed, these biological responses have measurable clinical benefits.  Oxytocin has long been implicated in maternal bonding, sexual behaviour and social affiliation behaviours and in promoting a sense of well-being .  So far, so good.  We humans often turn to animals for stress relief, companionship, and even therapy.  We kno