Migratory routes and stopover behaviour in avian migration

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : Department of Zoology, Stockholm University

Sammanfattning: Migratory birds, some small and light weight as matchboxes, engage in seasonal inter-continental journeys in order to take advantage of the long summer days and abundance of food at northern latitudes to breed and raise their young, and then escape the harsh winters by migrating to lower latitudes. This thesis deals with two important aspects of migration, the routes taken during migration and the birds’ behaviour at stopovers. The migratory routes are for many species unknown, whole or in part, and this is especially true for species that migrate nocturnally. At stopovers birds replenish fuel reserves that powers migratory flight, and studying how birds utilise stopovers is important in order to understand how migration is organised. In this thesis I have used modern tracking technology to study both continental wide movements of thrush nightingales (Luscinia luscinia) and common rosefinches (Carpodacus erythrinus) using small light-level geolocators, and smaller scale movements at a single stopover site of garden warblers (Sylvia borin) using miniature radio-transmitters. I have also studied the fuelling behaviour of garden warblers during autumn migration in the field and in the lab, and great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) at a stopover site on Crete during spring migration after the Sahara crossing. The thesis discusses the significance of several aspects of migration shown by the birds that would have been very difficult to detect without the aid of modern tracking technology, such as loop migration, prolonged stops during migration, multiple wintering sites, and nocturnal relocations at stopover sites. Studies carried out at stopover sites also show that garden warblers and great reed warblers can attain large fuel loads even at sites where they have no barrier to cross and this might be a result of good foraging conditions. The thesis also highlights the importance of combining different techniques when studying stopover behaviour to get reliable estimates on stopover durations and fuel deposition rates as well as the importance of choosing sites preferred by birds when planning stopover studies.