Exo, Klaus-Michael

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  • Data package
    Data from: Migratory connectivity and population specific migration routes in a long-distance migratory bird
    (2013-12-17) Trierweiler, Christiane; Klaassen, Raymond H.G.; Drent, Rudi H.; Exo, Klaus-Michael; Komdeur, Jan; Bairlein, Franz; Koks, Ben J.
    Knowledge about migratory connectivity, the degree to which individuals from the same breeding site migrate to the same wintering site, is essential to understand processes affecting populations of migrants throughout the annual cycle. Here, we study the migration system of a long-distance migratory bird, the Montagu's harrier Circus pygargus, by tracking individuals from different breeding populations throughout northern Europe. We identified three main migration routes towards wintering areas in sub-Saharan Africa. Wintering areas and migration routes of different breeding populations overlapped, a pattern best described by ‘weak (diffuse) connectivity’. Migratory performance, i.e. timing, duration, distance and speed of migration, was surprisingly similar for the three routes despite differences in habitat characteristics. This study provides, to our knowledge, a first comprehensive overview of the migration system of a Palaearctic-African long-distance migrant. We emphasize the importance of spatial scale (e.g. distances between breeding populations) in defining patterns of connectivity and suggest that knowledge about fundamental aspects determining distribution patterns, such as the among-individual variation in mean migration directions, is required to ultimately understand migratory connectivity. Furthermore, we stress that for conservation purposes it is pivotal to consider wintering areas as well as migration routes and in particular stopover sites.
  • Data package
    Data from: Migration routes and strategies of Grey Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola) on the East Atlantic Flyway as revealed by satellite tracking
    (2019-08-09) Exo, Klaus-Michael; Hillig, Franziska; Bairlein, Franz
    Background: While the general migration routes of most waders are known, details concerning connectivity between breeding grounds, stopover sites and wintering grounds are often lacking. Such information is critical from the conservation perspective and necessary for understanding the annual cycle. Studies are especially needed to identify key stopover sites in remote regions. Using satellite transmitters, we traced spring and autumn migration routes and connectivity of Grey Plovers on the East Atlantic Flyway. Our findings also revealed the timing, flight speed, and duration of migrations. Methods: We used ARGOS satellite transmitters to track migration routes of 11 Grey Plovers that were captured at the German Wadden Sea where they had stopped during migration. Birds were monitored for up to 3 years, 2011‒2014.
Results: Monitoring signals indicated breeding grounds in the Taimyr and Yamal regions; important staging sites on the coasts of the southern Pechora Sea and the Kara Sea; and wintering areas that ranged from NW- Ireland to Guinea Bissau. The average distance traveled from wintering grounds to breeding grounds was 5534 km. Migration duration varied between 42 and 152 days; during this period birds spent about 95% of the time at staging sites. In spring most plovers crossed inland Eastern Europe, whereas in autumn most followed the coastline. Almost all of the birds departed during favorable wind conditions within just 4 days (27‒30 May) on northward migration from the Wadden Sea. In spring birds migrated significantly faster between the Wadden Sea and the Arctic than on return migration in autumn (12 vs. 37 days), with shorter stopovers during the northward passage.
Conclusions: Our study shows that satellite tags can shed considerable light on migration strategies by revealing the use of different regions during the annual cycle and by providing detailed quantitative data on population connectivity and migration timing.
  • Data package
    Data from: Forecasting spring from afar? Timing of migration and predictability of phenology along different migration routes of an avian herbivore [Barents Sea data]
    (2014-09-01) van der Jeugd, Henk; Osterbeek, Kees; Ens, Bruno J; Shamoun-Baranes, Judy; Exo, Klaus-Michael
    1. 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. 2. 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. 3. Barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) were tracked with solar Argos/GPS 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. 4. 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. 5. 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. 6. 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.