The Arctic is entering a new ecological state, with alarming consequences for humanity. Animal-borne sensors offer a window into these changes. Although substantial animal tracking data from the Arctic and subarctic exist, most are difficult to discover and access. Here, we present the new Arctic Animal Movement Archive (AAMA), a growing collection of more than 200 standardized terrestrial and marine animal tracking studies from 1991 to the present. The AAMA supports public data discovery, preserves fundamental baseline data for the future, and facilitates efficient, collaborative data analysis. With AAMA-based case studies, we document climatic influences on the migration phenology of eagles, geographic differences in the adaptive response of caribou reproductive phenology to climate change, and species-specific changes in terrestrial mammal movement rates in response to increasing temperature.
Herbivorous birds are hypothesized to migrate in spring along a seasonal gradient of plant profitability towards their breeding grounds (green wave hypothesis). For Arctic breeding species in particular, following highly profitable food is important, so that they can replenish resources along the way and arrive in optimal body condition to start breeding early. We compared the timing of migratory movements of Arctic breeding geese on different flyways to examine whether flyways differed in the predictability of spring conditions at stopovers and whether this was reflected in the degree to which birds were following the green wave. Barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) were tracked with solar GPS/ARGOS PTTs from their wintering grounds to breeding sites in Greenland (N = 7), Svalbard (N = 21) and the Barents Sea (N = 12). The numerous stopover sites of all birds were combined into a set of 16 general stopover regions. The predictability of climatic conditions along the flyways was calculated as the correlation and slope between onsets of spring at consecutive stopovers. These values differed between sites, mainly because of the presence or absence of ecological barriers. Goose arrival at stopovers was more closely tied to the local onset of spring when predictability was higher and when geese attempted breeding that year. All birds arrived at early stopovers after the onset of spring and arrived at the breeding grounds before the onset of spring, thus overtaking the green wave. This is in accordance with patterns expected for capital breeders: first, they must come into condition; at intermediate stopovers, arrival with the food quality peak is important to stay in condition, and at the breeding grounds, early arrival is favoured so that hatching of young can coincide with the peak of food quality. Our results suggest that a chain of correlations between climatic conditions at subsequent stopovers enables geese to closely track the green wave. However, the birds' precision of migratory timing seems uninfluenced by ecological barriers, indicating partly fixed migration schedules. These might become non-optimal due to climate warming and preclude accurate timing of long-distance migrants in the future.
Seasonal geophysical cycles strongly influence the activity of life on Earth because they affect environmental conditions like temperature, precipitation and day length. An increase in daylight availability during summer is especially enhanced when animals migrate along a latitudinal gradient. Yet, the question of how day length (i.e. daylight availability) influences the activity patterns of long-distance, latitudinal migrants is still unclear. Here, we ask whether migration provides benefits to long-distance migrants by enabling them to increase their diurnal movement activities due to an increase in daylight availability. To answer this question, we tested whether four vastly different species of long-distance migratory birds-two arctic migrants and two mid-latitude migrants-can capitalise on day length changes by adjusting their daily activity. We quantified the relationship between daily activity (measured using accelerometer data) and day length, and estimated each species' daily activity patterns. In addition, we evaluated the role of day length as an ultimate driver of bird migration. All four species exhibited longer activity periods during days with more daylight hours, showing a strong positive relationship between total daily activity and day length. The slope of this relationship varied between the different species, with activity increasing 1.5-fold on average when migrating from wintering to breeding grounds. Underlying mechanisms of these relationships reveal two distinct patterns of daily activity. Flying foragers showed increasing activity patterns, that is, their daytime activities rose uniformly up to solar noon and decreased until dusk, thereby exhibiting a season-specific activity slope. In contrast, ground foragers showed a constant activity pattern, whereby they immediately increased their activity to a certain level and maintained this level throughout the day. Our study reveals that long days allow birds to prolong their activity and increase their total daily activity. These findings highlight that daylight availability could be an additional ultimate cause of bird migration and act as a selective agent for the evolution of migration.
Los ciclos geofísicos estacionales influyen fuertemente la actividad de la vida en la Tierra ya que afectan diversas condiciones ambientales como la temperatura, la precipitación y la duración del día. El aumento de la disponibilidad de luz solar durante el verano favorece especialmente a las especies que migran a lo largo de un gradiente latitudinal. Sin embargo, el efecto de la duración del día (es decir, la disponibilidad de luz solar) en los patrones de actividad de las especies que migran latitudinalmente largas distancias, aún no es claro. Aquí nos preguntamos si un aumento de la disponibilidad de luz solar representa un beneficio para los animales que migran largas distancias, al prolongar el periodo de actividad diurna. Para responder a esta pregunta, investigamos si cuatro especies diferentes de aves migratorias de larga distancia, dos migrantes árticos y dos migrantes de latitudes medias, pueden ajustar su actividad diaria y aprovechar los cambios en la duración del día. Cuantificamos la relación entre la actividad diaria (medida con datos de acelerómetro) y la duración del día, y estimamos los patrones de actividad de cada especie. Además, evaluamos el papel de la duración del día como mecanismo último subyacente a la migración de las aves. Las cuatro especies mostraron períodos de actividad más largos durante los días con más horas de luz, mostrando una fuerte relación positiva entre la actividad diaria total y la duración del día. Esta relación varió entre las especies evaluadas. La actividad aumentó en promedio 1.5 veces durante la migración desde las áreas de invernada a las áreas de reproducción. Los mecanismos subyacentes a estas relaciones revelan dos patrones de actividad diaria. Las especies que forrajean en vuelo mostraron un aumento en su patrón de actividad. En este caso, la actividad diurna aumentó uniformemente hasta el mediodía y disminuyó hasta el atardecer, mostrando una pendiente de actividad específica para la estación. De otro lado, las especies que forrajean en tierra mostraron un patrón de actividad constante. Según este patrón, la actividad diurna aumenta hasta un determinado nivel, a partir del cual se mantiene durante el resto del día. Nuestro estudio revela que el aumento en la longitud del día le permite a las aves prolongar su actividad e incrementar su actividad diaria total. Estos resultados señalan que la disponibilidad de luz diurna podría ser otro mecanismo último subyacente a la migración de las aves y puede actuar como un factor de selección en la evolución de la migración.
Many migrating herbivores rely on plant biomass to fuel their life cycles and have adapted to following changes in plant quality through time. The green wave hypothesis predicts that herbivorous waterfowl will follow the wave of food availability and quality during their spring migration. However, testing this hypothesis is hampered by the large geographical range these birds cover. The satellite-derived normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) time series is an ideal proxy indicator for the development of plant biomass and quality across a broad spatial area. A derived index, the green wave index (GWI), has been successfully used to link altitudinal and latitudinal migration of mammals to spatio-temporal variations in food quality and quantity. To date, this index has not been used to test the green wave hypothesis for individual avian herbivores. Here, we use the satellite-derived GWI to examine the green wave hypothesis with respect to GPS-tracked individual barnacle geese from three flyway populations (Russian n = 12, Svalbard n = 8, and Greenland n = 7). Data were collected over three years (2008-2010). Our results showed that the Russian and Svalbard barnacle geese followed the middle stage of the green wave (GWI 40-60%), while the Greenland geese followed an earlier stage (GWI 20-40%). Despite these differences among geese populations, the phase of vegetation greenness encountered by the GPS-tracked geese was close to the 50% GWI (i.e. the assumed date of peak nitrogen concentration), thereby implying that barnacle geese track high quality food during their spring migration. To our knowledge, this is the first time that the migration of individual avian herbivores has been successfully studied with respect to vegetation phenology using the satellite-derived GWI. Our results offer further support for the green wave hypothesis applying to long-distance migrants on a larger scale.
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