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Rush or relax: migration tactics of a nocturnal insectivore in response to ecological barriers

Lathouwers, Michiel, Artois, Tom, Dendoncker, Nicolas, Beenaerts, Natalie, Conway, Greg, Henderson, Ian, Kowalczyk, Céline, Davaasuren, Batmunkh, Bayrgur, Soddelgerekh, Shewring, Mike, Cross, Tony, Ulenaers, Eddy, Liechti, Felix and Evens, Ruben 2022. Rush or relax: migration tactics of a nocturnal insectivore in response to ecological barriers. Scientific Reports 12 (1) , 4964. 10.1038/s41598-022-09106-y

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During their annual migration, avian migrants alternate stopover periods, for refuelling, with migratory flight bouts. We hypothesise that European Nightjars (Caprimulgus europaeus) adapt their daily migration tactics in association with biomes. We tracked the autumn migration of 24 European Nightjars, from breeding populations in Mongolia, Belgium and UK, using GPS-loggers and multi-sensor data loggers. We quantified crepuscular and nocturnal migration and foraging probabilities, as well as daily travel speed and flight altitude during active migration in response to biomes. Nightjars adopt a rush tactic, reflected in high daily travel speed, flight altitude and high migration probabilities at dusk and at night, when travelling through ecological barriers. Migration is slower in semi-open, hospitable biomes. This is reflected in high foraging probabilities at dusk, lower daily travel speed and lower migration probabilities at dusk. Our study shows how nightjars switch migration tactics during autumn migration, and suggest nightjars alternate between feeding and short migratory flight bouts within the same night when travelling through suitable habitats. How this may affect individuals’ fuel stores and whether different biomes provide refuelling opportunities en route remains to be investigated, to understand how future land-use change may affect migration patterns and survival probabilities.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher: Nature Research
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 31 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 15 March 2022
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2022 12:45

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