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Longer wings for faster springs - wing length relates to spring phenology in a long-distance migrant across its range

Hahn, Steffen and Korner-Nievergelt, Fraenzi and Emmenegger, Tamara and Amrhein, Valentin and Csoergo, Tibor and Gursoy, Arzu and Ilieva, Mihaela and Kverek, Pavel and Perez-Tris, Javier and Pirrello, Simone and Zehtindjiev, Pavel and Salewski, Volker. (2016) Longer wings for faster springs - wing length relates to spring phenology in a long-distance migrant across its range. Ecology and Evolution , 6 (1). pp. 68-77.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/51892/

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Abstract

In migratory birds, morphological adaptations for efficient migratory flight often oppose morphological adaptations for efficient behavior during resident periods. This includes adaptations in wing shape for either flying long distances or foraging in the vegetation and in climate-driven variation of body size. In addition, the timing of migratory flights and particularly the timely arrival at local breeding sites is crucial because fitness prospects depend on site-specific phenology. Thus, adaptations for efficient long-distance flights might be also related to conditions at destination areas. For an obligatory long-distance migrant, the common nightingale, we verified that wing length as the aerodynamically important trait, but not structural body size increased from the western to the eastern parts of the species range. In contrast with expectation from aerodynamic theory, however, wing length did not increase with increasing migration distances. Instead, wing length was associated with the phenology at breeding destinations, namely the speed of local spring green-up. We argue that longer wings are beneficial for adjusting migration speed to local conditions for birds breeding in habitats with fast spring green-up and thus short optimal arrival periods. We suggest that the speed of spring green-up at breeding sites is a fundamental variable determining the timing of migration that fine tune phenotypes in migrants across their range.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Zoologie
UniBasel Contributors:Amrhein, Valentin
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:2045-7758
e-ISSN:2045-7758
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:26 Oct 2017 13:12
Deposited On:26 Oct 2017 13:12

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