Energetic and biomechanical constraints on animal migration distance

Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.
Ecology Letters (Impact Factor: 10.69). 11/2011; 15(2):104-10. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01714.x
Source: PubMed


Ecology Letters (2011)
Animal migration is one of the great wonders of nature, but the factors that determine how far migrants travel remain poorly understood. We present a new quantitative model of animal migration and use it to describe the maximum migration distance of walking, swimming and flying migrants. The model combines biomechanics and metabolic scaling to show how maximum migration distance is constrained by body size for each mode of travel. The model also indicates that the number of body lengths travelled by walking and swimming migrants should be approximately invariant of body size. Data from over 200 species of migratory birds, mammals, fish, and invertebrates support the central conclusion of the model – that body size drives variation in maximum migration distance among species through its effects on metabolism and the cost of locomotion. The model provides a new tool to enhance general understanding of the ecology and evolution of migration.

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    • "However, we found that the effect of spatial variability in resources was smaller than the effect of absolute resource availability, indicating that the main driver of migration distances in large mammalian herbivores is resource availability. Previous studies have reported allometric scaling relationships for natal dispersal distances (Whitmee & Orme 2013; Stevens et al. 2014) and home range sizes (McNab 1963) as well as for maximum migration distances (Hein et al. 2012). We found no allometric relationship when considering variation in migration distance among populations of large mammalian herbivores (which still spanned 2.3 orders of magnitude in body size). "
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    ABSTRACT: Animal migration is a global phenomenon, but few studies have examined the substantial within- and between-species variation in migration distances. We built a global database of 94 land migrations of large mammalian herbivore populations ranging from 10 to 1638 km. We examined how resource availability, spatial scale of resource variability and body size affect migration distance among populations. Resource availability measured as normalised difference vegetation index had a strong negative effect, predicting a tenfold difference in migration distances between low- and high-resource areas and explaining 23% of the variation in migration distances. We found a weak, positive effect of the spatial scale of resource variability but no effect of body size. Resource-poor environments are known to increase the size of mammalian home ranges and territories. Here, we demonstrate that for migratory populations as well, animals living in resource-poor environments travel farther to fulfil their resource needs. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.
    Ecology Letters 04/2015; 18(6). DOI:10.1111/ele.12435 · 10.69 Impact Factor
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    • "It is not surprising that large species disperse farther, as this pattern was reported in several groups with contrasted modes of locomotion, including birds, mammals or fishes (Paradis et al. 1998; Sutherland et al. 2000; Bradbury et al. 2008). One potential explanation is that it is energetically less costly to move per unit mass and distance for large, mobile organisms than it is for small ones (Schmidt-Nielsen 1972; Hein et al. 2012). Yet, we also observed a quadratic relationship between body size and the moment of dispersal distances with evidence of lower dispersal distances in the largest species. "
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    ABSTRACT: Dispersal, the behaviour ensuring gene flow, tends to covary with a number of morphological, ecological and behavioural traits. While species-specific dispersal behaviours are the product of each species' unique evolutionary history, there may be distinct interspecific patterns of covariation between dispersal and other traits ('dispersal syndromes') due to their shared evolutionary history or shared environments. Using dispersal, phylogeny and trait data for 15 terrestrial and semi-terrestrial animal Orders (> 700 species), we tested for the existence and consistency of dispersal syndromes across species. At this taxonomic scale, dispersal increased linearly with body size in omnivores, but decreased above a critical length in herbivores and carnivores. Species life history and ecology significantly influenced patterns of covariation, with higher phylogenetic signal of dispersal in aerial dispersers compared with ground dwellers and stronger evidence for dispersal syndromes in aerial dispersers and ectotherms, compared with ground dwellers and endotherms. Our results highlight the complex role of dispersal in the evolution of species life-history strategies: good dispersal ability was consistently associated with high fecundity and survival, and in aerial dispersers it was associated with early maturation. We discuss the consequences of these findings for species evolution and range shifts in response to future climate change.
    Ecology Letters 06/2014; DOI:10.1111/ele.12303 · 10.69 Impact Factor
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    • "Colder-bodied species tend to be more sluggish or sedentary, whereas warmer-bodied species tend to show higher levels of aerobic activity. From an ecological perspective, differences in levels of aerobic activity underlie many differences in species’ lifestyles, including feeding modes, movement patterns and rates of locomotion (Bennett, 1980; Filho et al., 1992; Angilletta Jr, Huey & Frazier, 2010; Hein, Hou & Gillooly, 2012). From an evolutionary perspective, these differences may lead to greater fitness (Kingsolver & Huey, 2008; Angilletta Jr, Huey & Frazier, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Aerobic activity levels increase with body temperature across vertebrates. Differences in these levels, from highly active to sedentary, are reflected in their ecology and behavior. Yet, the changes in the cardiovascular system that allow for greater oxygen supply at higher temperatures, and thus greater aerobic activity, remain unclear. Here we show that the total volume of red blood cells in the body increases exponentially with temperature across vertebrates, after controlling for effects of body size and taxonomy. These changes are accompanied by increases in relative heart mass, an indicator of aerobic activity. The results point to one way vertebrates may increase oxygen supply to meet the demands of greater activity at higher temperatures.
    PeerJ 04/2014; 2(2):e346. DOI:10.7717/peerj.346 · 2.11 Impact Factor
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