The roller coaster flight strategy of bar-headed geese conserves energy during Himalayan migrations

Bishop, C.M. and Spivey, R.J. and Hawkes, L.A. and Batbayar, N. and Chua, B. and Frappell, P.B. and Milsom, W.K. and Natsagdorj, T. and Newman, S.H. and Scott, G.R. and Takekawa, J.Y. and Wikelski, M. and Butler, P.J. (2015) The roller coaster flight strategy of bar-headed geese conserves energy during Himalayan migrations. Science, 347 (6219). pp. 250-254. DOI: 10.1126/science.1258732

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The physiological and biomechanical requirements of flight at high altitude have been the subject of much interest. Here, we uncover a steep relation between heart rate and wingbeat frequency (raised to the exponent 3.5) and estimated metabolic power and wingbeat frequency (exponent 7) of migratory bar-headed geese. Flight costs increase more rapidly than anticipated as air density declines, which overturns prevailing expectations that this species should maintain high-altitude flight when traversing the Himalayas. Instead, a �roller coaster� strategy, of tracking the underlying terrain and discarding large altitude gains only to recoup them later in the flight with occasional benefits from orographic lift, is shown to be energetically advantageous for flights over the Himalayas.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Research Publications
Departments: College of Natural Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2015 03:38
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2015 02:50
ISSN: 0036-8075
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/3508
Identification Number: DOI: 10.1126/science.1258732
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
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