The determinants of dispersal and migratory movements of long-lived birds

Serra Acacio, Marta (2021) The determinants of dispersal and migratory movements of long-lived birds. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Individual movement is influenced by many factors, from intrinsic individual traits to extrinsic environmental conditions. These can determine the onset, duration, and direction of movements, with potential consequences for individual fitness, adaptation to on-going environmental change and, ultimately, species conservation. In this thesis, I combine GPS tracking technology and accelerometery, with remote sensing and weather data, aiming to explore the drivers and mechanisms underlying the movement behaviour of long-lived bird species. The detailed study of individual movement has highly profited from technological advances in GPS tracking equipment, and, here, I show that the accuracy of these devices is not negatively affected by their deployment on large birds. In the first study of the movement ecology of Shoebills Balaeniceps rex, I show that their movements are determined by changes in surface water, suggesting different habitat use between adult and immature Shoebills. By exploring the long-distance autumn migrations of White Storks Ciconia ciconia travelling over a three-month period, I show that the timing of migration determines the weather conditions storks find en route, with implications for migratory performance, energy expenditure, and migration destination. Finally, I describe the ontogeny of migratory strategies of White Storks, to further increase our understanding on the mechanisms underlying this species recent loss of migratory behaviour. I show that the use of anthropogenic food subsidies does not influence the migratory strategy of immature storks, instead storks with lower flight and migratory performance are more likely to decrease migratory distance and become resident. Overall, this research adds to the understanding of how birds respond to the environmental conditions and emphasizes the importance of long-term tracking to study individuals throughout their lives. Additionally, it provides new insights on the mechanisms through which species are adapting to environmental change and highlights the role of individual experience on the loss of migratory behaviour.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2022 10:34
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2023 01:38

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