Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chubby birds get there faster

17.02.2010
Heavy migratory birds take shorter breaks and reach their breeding grounds faster

Small migratory birds, like the garden warbler, must make stopovers on their journeys to their breeding grounds. When they have crossed extensive ecological barriers, such as deserts or oceans, they must land to replenish their fat reserves. A researcher from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen and a team of Italian colleagues measured the duration of the stopovers made by garden warblers on an island off the Italian coast. There they observed that fat birds usually move on the night of their arrival, while thin birds interrupt their journey for an average of almost two days (Biology Letters, February 17, 2010).


Garden warbler with sender.
Image: Wolfgang Goymann

While pockets of flab accumulated over the winter months may be a source of frustration for some, it can be a cause of joy for others: "Fat garden warblers can make shorter stops to replenish their fat reserves on the taxing annual journey to their breeding grounds," reports Wolfgang Goymann of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen. The research results have shown that the duration of a bird’s stopover is not only influenced by environmental factors, such as wind and weather conditions, or a genetically-programmed internal urge: subcutaneous fat stores are the main factor behind the varying durations of the stopovers made during avian migration.

The researchers fitted ten fat birds and ten thin birds that landed on the Italian island of Ventotene in the morning on route to the north with temporary adhesive radio transmitters. They then monitored, at regular intervals, whether the signal emitted by the transmitters could still be heard on the island. Nine out of the ten fat birds flew on the same night; the thin birds, however, remained on the island for an average duration of 40 hours before resuming their journey. "We assume that the majority of the birds arrived on the island the morning we caught them," says Wolfgang Goymann. "However, even if this were not the case, our data clearly revealed that fat garden warblers only waited until nightfall on the same day to move on. As opposed to this, the thin birds had to wait until they had accumulated sufficient fat reserves for the next leg of their journey." The data demonstrates the importance of ecologically-intact resting grounds: The birds can only replenish their energy reserves quickly and move on to their breeding grounds swiftly and unfailingly if they can rest in areas with sufficient supplies of insects, nectar and pollen. Those that arrive early at the breeding ground can secure the best nesting sites.

Original work:

Wolfgang Goymann, Fernando Spina, Andrea Ferri and Leonida Fusani
Body fat influences departure from stopover sites in migratory birds: evidence from whole-island telemetry.

Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.1028

Contact:

Dr. Wolfgang Goymann
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen
E-mail: goymann@orn.mpg.de

Barbara Abrell | Max Planck Society
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/english/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht 'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells
20.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

nachricht New printing technique uses cells and molecules to recreate biological structures
20.02.2018 | Queen Mary University of London

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>