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


Bishop, CM and Spivey, RJ and Hawkes, LA and Batbayar, N and Chua, B and Frappell, PB and Milsom, WK and Natsagdorj, T and Newman, SH and Scott, GR and Takekawa, JY and Wikelski, M and Butler, PJ, The roller coaster flight strategy of bar-headed geese conserves energy during Himalayan migrations, Science, 347, (6219) pp. 250-254. ISSN 0036-8075 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science

DOI: doi:10.1126/science.1258732


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 Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:flight strategy, bar-headed goose, migration, high altitude, flight requirements, Himalayas
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Zoology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Frappell, PB (Professor Peter Frappell)
ID Code:108725
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:136
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2016-05-04
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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