One-year update #2: how migratory soaring flight develops

Rado Seminar by Hester Brønnvik

  • Date: May 17, 2024
  • Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Hester Brønnvik
  • Location: Hybrid meeting
  • Room: Seminar room MPI-AB Bücklestrasse + Online
  • Host: Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior
  • Contact:
 One-year update #2: how migratory soaring flight develops
Movement is a fundamental aspect of life, but it can be energetically costly. Soaring birds have a high cost of transport and are forced to depend on atmospheric uplifts to afford long-distance flight. Thus, riding uplifts efficiently is a vital skill for them. Some vital skills are not innate and must be learned. One outstanding question is how young soaring birds learn to fly. Here, we addressed this question using three consecutive years of GPS tracking data at one-second resolution to quantify the flight performance of white storks (Ciconia ciconia) and how it develops over time. Because they migrate within three months of leaving the nest, we expect that white storks quickly learn to soar. Because soaring flight requires animals to acquire, process, and respond to information about the environment, we also expect that soaring takes time to master. We predict that storks will continue to improve gradually in their soaring skill as they gain experience on migration. Here, I share first results from 140 tagged birds. Even juvenile storks already soared well, but they made expensive mistakes when faced with challenging conditions. As they aged, storks improved in energetically-rewarding flight. Successful migration is necessary for these birds to breed, thus learning energetically affordable flight early in life is likely to have important fitness consequences.

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