Kranstauber_Ecol_letters_animove_orgA very interesting article by some of our AniMove lecturer: Birds migrate over vast distances at substantial costs. The highly dynamic nature of the air makes the selection of the best travel route difficult. We investigated to what extent migratory birds may optimise migratory route choice with respect to wind, and if route choice can be subject to natural selection. Following the optimal route, calculated using 21 years of empirical global wind data, reduced median travel time by 26.5% compared to the spatially shortest route. When we used a time-dependent survival model to quantify the adaptive benefit of choosing a fixed wind-optimised route, 84.8% of pairs of locations yielded a route with a higher survival than the shortest route. This suggests that birds, even if incapable of predicting wind individually, could adjust their migratory routes at a population level. As a consequence, this may result in the emergence of low-cost flyways representing a global network of aerial migratory pathways.

Kranstauber, Weinzierl, Wikelski and Safi (2015) Global aerial flyways allow efficient travelling. Ecology Letters, Volume 18, Issue 12, 1338–1345