Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drought in the Horn of Africa delays migrating birds

Date:
December 6, 2012
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
The catastrophic drought last year in the Horn of Africa affected millions of people but also caused the extremely late arrival into northern Europe of several migratory songbird species, a new study shows. Details of the migration route was revealed by data collected from small back-packs fitted on birds showing that the delay resulted from an extended stay in the Horn of Africa.

Thrush nightingale.
Credit: Mikkel W. Kristensen

The catastrophic drought last year in the Horn of Africa affected millions of people but also caused the extremely late arrival into northern Europe of several migratory songbird species, a study published December 6 in Science shows. Details of the migration route was revealed by data collected from small backpacks fitted on birds showing that the delay resulted from an extended stay in the Horn of Africa.

The extensive 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa had significant consequences for European songbirds such as thrush nightingale and red-backed shrike. These birds visit northern Europe every spring to mate and take advantage of ample summer food resources.

However, their spring migrating route from southern Africa to northern latitudes passes directly through the Horn of Africa, where the birds stop to feed and refuel for the next stage of their migration.

"Our research was able to couple the birds' delayed arrival in Europe with that stopover in the Horn of Africa. Here they stayed about a week longer in 2011 than in the years before and after 2011. Because of the drought, the birds would have needed longer to feed and gain energy for their onward travel, causing delayed arrival and breeding in Europe. This supports our theory that migrating animals in general are dependent on a series of areas to reach their destination,"says Associate Professor Anders Tøttrup from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

Data loggers as a backpack

The late spring arrival of European songbirds such asthrush nightingale and red-backed shrike perplexed researchers and bird watchers in 2011.

This mystery was even greater considering these songbirds' tendency to arrive progressively earlier over the last 50 years as climate change has made its impact.

By placing small data loggers on the backs of several birds in the autumn before their migration to Africa, and retrieving them in the spring when the birds returned to Europe, the scientists were able to trace the migration route and stopover sites. These data revealed a delay in the particular stopover in the Horn of Africa. Additionally, it was noted that other migrating birds not passing through the Horn of Africa arrived in Europe at the expected time.

"We have reconstructed 26 migration routes based on data from the small 'data backpacks' weighing just 1 gram. This new technology provides us with a detailed picture of the birds' migration and stopovers. It is brand-new territory to be able to track animals this small over such great distances," says Associate Professor Kasper Thorup from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

Delayed breeding

The birds' late arrival in 2011 also meant a similarly late breeding year.

"There are no signs of implications on the birds' breeding success and thereby the size of the population. But it is possible that we haven't yet seen the full effect of the delayed year," concludes Anders Tøttrup.

The research was carried out in collaboration with Lund University in Sweden.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Drought in the Horn of Africa delays migrating birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206142012.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2012, December 6). Drought in the Horn of Africa delays migrating birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206142012.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Drought in the Horn of Africa delays migrating birds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206142012.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) — West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins