Migratory species display a range of migration patterns between irruptive (facultative) to regular (obligate), as a response to different predictability of resources. In the Arctic, snow directly influences resource availability. The causes and consequences of different migration patterns of migratory species as a response to the snow conditions remains however unexplored. Birds migrating to the Arctic are expected to follow the spring snowmelt to optimise their arrival time and select for snow-free areas to maximise prey encounter en-route. Based on large-scale movement data, we compared the migration patterns of three top predator species of the tundra in relation to the spatio-temporal dynamics of snow cover. The snowy owl, an irruptive migrant, the rough-legged buzzard, with an intermediary migration pattern, and the peregrine falcon as a regular migrant, all followed, as expected, the spring snowmelt during their migrations. However, the owl stayed ahead, the buzzard stayed on, and the falcon stayed behind the spatio-temporal peak in snowmelt. Although none of the species avoided snow-covered areas, they presumably used snow presence as a cue to time their arrival at their breeding grounds. We show the importance of environmental cues for species with different migration patterns.
Millions of migratory birds occupy seasonally favourable breeding grounds in the Arctic1, but we know little about the formation, maintenance and future of the migration routes of Arctic birds and the genetic determinants of migratory distance. Here we established a continental-scale migration system that used satellite tracking to follow 56 peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) from 6 populations that breed in the Eurasian Arctic, and resequenced 35 genomes from 4 of these populations. The breeding populations used five migration routes across Eurasia, which were probably formed by longitudinal and latitudinal shifts in their breeding grounds during the transition from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Holocene epoch. Contemporary environmental divergence between the routes appears to maintain their distinctiveness. We found that the gene ADCY8 is associated with population-level differences in migratory distance. We investigated the regulatory mechanism of this gene, and found that long-term memory was the most likely selective agent for divergence in ADCY8 among the peregrine populations. Global warming is predicted to influence migration strategies and diminish the breeding ranges of peregrine populations of the Eurasian Arctic. Harnessing ecological interactions and evolutionary processes to study climate-driven changes in migration can facilitate the conservation of migratory birds.
While collating contributions and comments from 36 researchers, the coordinating authors accidentally omitted Dr. Suzanne Carrière from the list of contributing co-authors. Dr. Carrière's data are described in Tables 1 and 3, Figure 2 and several places in the narrative.The new author list is thus updated in this article.
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.
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.
Small rodents with multi-annual population cycles strongly influence the dynamics of food webs, and in particular predator-prey interactions, across most of the tundra biome. Rodents are however absent from some arctic islands, and studies on performance of arctic predators under such circumstances may be very instructive since rodent cycles have been predicted to collapse in a warming Arctic. Here we document for the first time how three normally rodent-dependent predator species-rough-legged buzzard, arctic fox and red fox - perform in a low-arctic ecosystem with no rodents. During six years (in 2006-2008 and 2011-2013) we studied diet and breeding performance of these predators in the rodent-free Kolguev Island in Arctic Russia. The rough-legged buzzards, previously known to be a small rodent specialist, have only during the last two decades become established on Kolguev Island. The buzzards successfully breed on the island at stable low density, but with high productivity based on goslings and willow ptarmigan as their main prey - altogether representing a novel ecological situation for this species. Breeding density of arctic fox varied from year to year, but with stable productivity based on mainly geese as prey. The density dynamic of the arctic fox appeared to be correlated with the date of spring arrival of the geese. Red foxes breed regularly on the island but in very low numbers that appear to have been unchanged over a long period - a situation that resemble what has been recently documented from Arctic America. Our study suggests that the three predators found breeding on Kolguev Island possess capacities for shifting to changing circumstances in low-arctic ecosystem as long as other small - medium sized terrestrial herbivores are present in good numbers.
Cites: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1986 Mar 15;292(6522):746-503082422
The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) are top avian predators of Arctic ecosystems. Although existing monitoring efforts are well established for both species, collaboration of activities among Arctic scientists actively involved in research of large falcons in the Nearctic and Palearctic has been poorly coordinated. Here we provide the first overview of Arctic falcon monitoring sites, present trends for long-term occupancy and productivity, and summarize information describing abundance, distribution, phenology, and health of the two species. We summarize data for 24 falcon monitoring sites across the Arctic, and identify gaps in coverage for eastern Russia, the Arctic Archipelago of Canada, and East Greenland. Our results indicate that peregrine falcon and gyrfalcon populations are generally stable, and assuming that these patterns hold beyond the temporal and spatial extents of the monitoring sites, it is reasonable to suggest that breeding populations at broader scales are similarly stable. We have highlighted several challenges that preclude direct comparisons of Focal Ecosystem Components (FEC) attributes among monitoring sites, and we acknowledge that methodological problems cannot be corrected retrospectively, but could be accounted for in future monitoring. Despite these drawbacks, ample opportunity exists to establish a coordinated monitoring program for Arctic-nesting raptor species that supports CBMP goals.