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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Geolocator tagged Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea at a breeding site in Svalbard, Norway. Photo: Martins Briedis

Hromádková T, Pavel V, Flousek J, Briedis M


Seasonally specific responses to wind patterns and ocean productivity facilitate the longest animal migration on Earth


The Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea is known as the ‘king of commuters’ for its record-breaking migration. Using light-level geolocators, Hromádková and co-authors tracked Arctic terns between their breeding sites in the Arctic and non-breeding sites in Antarctica – a journey of more than 50000 km. Terns achieve this extraordinary migration by tailoring their migration routes to benefit from tailwind support while on the move (particularly in the northbound migration) and from food-rich ocean areas while at stopovers (particularly in the southbound migration). With this pole-to-pole migration, terns experience approx. 80% of all annual daylight on Earth (most by any animal) easing their strictly diurnal foraging behaviour. This highlights the delicate interactions between migrants and the environment in facilitating the longest animal migration on Earth.


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