Wind effects on the migration routes of trans-Saharan soaring raptors: geographical, seasonal, and interspecific variation

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Title: Wind effects on the migration routes of trans-Saharan soaring raptors: geographical, seasonal, and interspecific variation
Authors: Vidal-Mateo, Javier | Mellone, Ugo | López-López, Pascual | Puente, Javier de la | García Ripollés, Clara | Bermejo, Ana | Urios, Vicente
Research Group/s: Zoología de Vertebrados
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Ciencias Ambientales y Recursos Naturales | Universidad de Alicante. Centro Iberoamericano de la Biodiversidad
Keywords: Neophron percnopterus | Aquila pennata | Circaetus gallicus | Wind drift | Satellite telemetry | Migration
Knowledge Area: Zoología
Issue Date: 1-Apr-2016
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Citation: Current Zoology. 2016, 62(2): 89-97. doi:10.1093/cz/zow008
Abstract: Wind is among the most important environmental factors shaping birds’ migration patterns. Birds must deal with the displacement caused by crosswinds and their behavior can vary according to different factors such as flight mode, migratory season, experience, and distance to goal areas. Here we analyze the relationship between wind and migratory movements of three raptor species which migrate by soaring–gliding flight: Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus, booted eagle Aquila pennata, and short-toed snake eagle Circaetus gallicus. We analyzed daily migratory segments (i.e., the path joining consecutive roosting locations) using data recorded by GPS satellite telemetry. Daily movements of Egyptian vultures and booted eagles were significantly affected by tailwinds during both autumn and spring migrations. In contrast, daily movements of short-toed eagles were only significantly affected by tailwinds during autumn migration. The effect of crosswinds was significant in all cases. Interestingly, Egyptian vultures and booted eagles showed latitudinal differences in their behavior: both species compensated more frequently at the onset of autumn migration and, at the end of the season when reaching their wintering areas, the proportion of drift segments was higher. In contrast, there was a higher drift at the onset of spring migration and a higher compensation at the end. Our results highlight the effect of wind patterns on the migratory routes of soaring raptors, with different outcomes in relation to species, season, and latitude, ultimately shaping the loop migration patterns that current tracking techniques are showing to be widespread in many long distance migrants.
Sponsor: The “Servicio de Biodiversidad” (Generalitat Valenciana) funded part of this project. Tracking of booted eagle has been made within the “Migra” project ( developed by SEO/BirdLife and financed by Iberdrola Foundation. Tracking of Italian individuals was funded by Gallipoli Cognato Piccole Dolomiti Lucane Regional Park. P.L.-L. is supported by a “Juan de la Cierva” postdoctoral grant of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (reference JCI-2011-09588).
ISSN: 1674-5507 (Print) | 2396-9814 (Online)
DOI: 10.1093/cz/zow008
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © The Author (2016). Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Peer Review: si
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