Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Individual differences in migration strategies of Italian Scopoli's Shearwaters

Martina Müller (Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Japan) and colleagues have published in the Chinese journal Current Zoology on migration patterns of Scopoli’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea from Linosa Island, near Sicily, Italy.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Recently-developed capabilities for tracking the movements of individual birds over the course of a year or longer has provided increasing evidence for consistent individual differences in migration schedules and destinations.  This raises questions about the relative importance of individual consistency versus flexibility in the evolution of migration strategies, and has implications for the ability of populations to respond to climatic change.  Using geolocators, we tracked the migrations of Scopoli’s shearwaters Calonectris diomedea breeding in Linosa (Italy) across three years, and analysed timing and spatial aspects of their movements.  Birds showed remarkable variation in their main wintering destination along the western coast of Africa.  We found significant individual consistency in the total distance traveled, time spent in transit, and time that individuals spent in the wintering areas.  We found extensive sex differences in scheduling, duration, distances and destinations of migratory journeys.  We also found sex differences in the degree of individual consistency in aspects of migration behaviour.  Despite strong evidence for individual consistency, which indicates that migration journeys from the same bird tended to be more similar than those of different birds, there remained substantial intra-individual variation between years.  Indeed, we also found clear annual differences in departure dates, return dates, wintering period, the total distance traveled and return routes from wintering grounds back to the colony.  These findings show that this population flexibly shifts migration schedules as well as routes between years in response to direct or indirect effects of heterogeneity in the environment, while maintaining consistent individual migration strategies.”

Cory's/Scopoli's Shearwater off South Africa, photograph by John Graham 


Müller, M.S., Massa, B., Phillips, R.A. & Dell’Omo, G. 2014.  Individual consistency and sex differences in migration strat.egies of Scopoli's shearwaters Calonectris diomedea despite year differences.  Current Zoology 60: 631-641.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 October 2014

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