MEPS 391:221-230 (2009)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08128

Influence of sea surface winds on shearwater migration detours

Jacob González-Solís1,*, Angel Felicísimo2, James W. Fox3, Vsevolod Afanasyev3, Yann Kolbeinsson4, Jesús Muñoz5

1Departament de Biologia Animal (Vertebrats), Universitat de Barcelona, Av Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
2Escuela Politécnica, Universidad de Extremadura, 10071 Cáceres, Spain
3British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
4South Iceland Nature Centre, Strandvegur 50, 900 Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
5Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Plaza de Murillo 2, 28014 Madrid, Spain

ABSTRACT: To test the potential effects of winds on the migratory detours of shearwaters, transequatorial migrations of 3 shearwaters, the Manx Puffinus puffinus, the Cory’s Calonectris diomedea, and the Cape Verde C. edwardsii shearwaters were tracked using geolocators. Concurrent data on the direction and strength of winds were obtained from the NASA SeaWinds scatterometer to calculate daily impedance models reflecting the resistance of sea surface winds to the shearwater movements. From these models we estimated relative wind-mediated costs for the observed synthesis pathway obtained from tracked birds, for the shortest distance pathway and for other simulated alternative pathways for every day of the migration period. We also estimated daily trajectories of the minimum cost pathway and compared distance and relative costs of all pathways. Shearwaters followed 26 to 52% longer pathways than the shortest distance path. In general, estimated wind-mediated costs of both observed synthesis and simulated alternative pathways were strongly dependent on the date of departure. Costs of observed synthesis pathways were about 15% greater than the synthesis pathway with the minimum cost, but, in the Cory’s and the Cape Verde shearwaters, these pathways were on average 15 to 20% shorter in distance, suggesting the extra costs of the observed pathways are compensated by saving about 2 travelling days. In Manx shearwaters, however, the distance of the observed synthesis pathway was 25% longer than that of the lowest cost synthesis pathway, probably because birds avoided shorter but potentially more turbulent pathways. Our results suggest that winds are a major determinant of the migratory routes of seabirds.


KEY WORDS: Migration costs · Wind influence · Bird flight · Shearwaters · Global location sensing · GLS · Geolocator


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Cite this article as: González-Solís J, Felicísimo A, Fox JW, Afanasyev V, Kolbeinsson Y, Muñoz J (2009) Influence of sea surface winds on shearwater migration detours. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 391:221-230. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08128

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