Martin Wikelski's research while affiliated with Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and other places

Publications (564)

Article
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The ICARUS (International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space) satellite IoT system was launched in 2020 to observe the life of animals on Earth: their migratory routes, living conditions, and causes of death. These findings will aid species conservation, protect ecosystem services by animals, measure weather and climate, and help forecast...
Article
Each year, trillions of insects make long-range seasonal migrations. These movements are relatively well understood at a population level, but how individual insects achieve them remains elusive. Behavioral responses to conditions en route are little studied, primarily owing to the challenges of tracking individual insects. Using a light aircraft a...
Article
Body-mounted accelerometers provide a new prospect for estimating power use in flying birds, as the signal varies with the two major kinematic determinants of aerodynamic power: wingbeat frequency and amplitude. Yet wingbeat frequency is sometimes used as a proxy for power output in isolation. There is, therefore, a need to understand which kinemat...
Article
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Quantifying stress and energetic responses in animals is a major challenge as existing methods lack temporal resolution and elevate animal stress. We propose “wake respirometry”, a new method of quantifying fine-scale changes in CO2 production in unrestrained animals, using a non-dispersive infrared CO2 sensor positioned downwind of the animal i.e....
Article
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Animal species differ considerably in their ability to fight off infections. Finding the genetic basis of these differences is not easy, as the immune response is comprised of a complex network of proteins that interact with one another to defend the body against infection. Here, we used population- and comparative genomics to study the evolutionar...
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Background Bio-logging and animal tracking datasets continuously grow in volume and complexity, documenting animal behaviour and ecology in unprecedented extent and detail, but greatly increasing the challenge of extracting knowledge from the data obtained. A large variety of analysis methods are being developed, many of which in effect are inacces...
Poster
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The Turkey Vulture is a widespread New World species with healthy populations in Cuba. Urban and anthropic environments seem suitable habitats for the species, given the large amount of carrion and organic waste generated from human activity, and by providing for the occurrence of thermals vital for their soaring flight. Given their large home rang...
Article
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Migratory species have a limited time for habitat selection upon arrival at the breeding grounds. This is especially evident in arctic migrants, which are restricted by a narrow window of opportunity when environmental conditions are favorable for breeding. This general time constraint is amplified in rough-legged buzzards (Buteo lagopus) who, as m...
Article
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GPS-enabled loggers have been proven as valuable tools for monitoring and understanding animal movement, behaviour and ecology. While the importance of recording accurate location estimates is well established, deployment on many, especially small species, has been limited by logger mass and cost. We developed an open-source and low-cost 0.65 g GPS...
Preprint
Body-mounted accelerometers provide a new prospect for estimating power use in flying birds, as the signal varies with the two major kinematic determinants of aerodynamic power: wingbeat frequency and amplitude. Yet wingbeat frequency is sometimes used as a proxy for power output in isolation. There is therefore a need to understand which kinematic...
Preprint
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Flying seabirds are adapted for windy environments 1,2 . Despite this, storms can cause widespread strandings and wrecks, demonstrating that these seabirds are not always able to avoid or compensate for extreme conditions 3,4,5,6,7 . The maximum wind speeds that birds can operate in should vary with morphology and flight style ⁸ , but this has been...
Article
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Macroecological studies that require habitat suitability data for many species often derive this information from expert opinion. However, expert‐based information is inherently subjective and thus prone to errors. The increasing availability of GPS tracking data offers opportunities to evaluate and supplement expert‐based information with detailed...
Article
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Birds rely on precise navigational mechanisms, especially for long-distance migrations. One debated mechanism is their use of the geomagnetic field. It is unclear if and how different species of birds are using intensity or inclination (or both) for navigation. Previous geomagnetic modelling research is based on static geomagnetic data despite a te...
Article
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Migrating grazers and carnivores respond to seasonal changes in the environment and often match peaks in resource abundance. However, it is unclear if and how frugivorous animals use phenological events to time migration, especially in the tropics. The straw‐colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum), Africa’s most gregarious fruit bat, forms large seasona...
Article
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Wind turbines and power lines can cause bird mortality due to collision or electrocution. The biodiversity impacts of energy infrastructure (EI) can be minimised through effective landscape-scale planning and mitigation. The identification of high-vulnerability areas is urgently needed to assess potential cumulative impacts of EI while supporting t...
Article
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Space-based tracking technology using low-cost miniature tags is now delivering data on fine-scale animal movement at near-global scale. Linked with remotely sensed environmental data, this offers a biological lens on habitat integrity and connectivity for conservation and human health; a global network of animal sentinels of environmental change.
Article
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Wind energy production has expanded as an alternative to carbon emitting fossil fuels, but is causing impacts on wildlife that need to be addressed. Soaring birds show concerning rates of collision with turbine rotor blades and losses of critical habitat. However, how these birds interact with wind turbines is poorly understood. We analyzed high-fr...
Preprint
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Background Bio-logging and animal tracking datasets continuously grow in volume and complexity, documenting animal behaviour and ecology in unprecedented extent and detail, but greatly increasing the challenge of extracting knowledge from the data obtained. A large variety of analysis methods are being developed, many of which in effect are inacces...
Article
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Inexpensive and accessible sensors are accelerating data acquisition in animal ecology. These technologies hold great potential for large-scale ecological understanding, but are limited by current processing approaches which inefficiently distill data into relevant information. We argue that animal ecologists can capitalize on large datasets genera...
Article
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Background Although some migratory birds may take different routes during their outbound and inbound migration, the factors causing these differential migrations to and from the breeding grounds, have rarely been investigated. In Northeast Asia, Demoiselle crane ( Anthropoides virgo ) performs one of the most extreme “loop” migrations known to date...
Article
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This article presents the results obtained from 2018 to 2021 using remote tracking and direct observations of a Eurasian Crane from Central European Russia. Full English version follows the Russian
Article
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Accelerometers in animal‐attached tags are powerful tools in behavioural ecology, they can be used to determine behaviour and provide proxies for movement‐based energy expenditure. Researchers are collecting and archiving data across systems, seasons and device types. However, using data repositories to draw ecological inference requires a good und...
Article
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Biologging devices are deployed on animals to collect ultra‐fine‐scale movement data that reveal subsecond patterns in locomotion or long‐term patterns in motion and space use. Often these two data types, although complementary, are rarely collected within the same study, given the limiting factors of memory space, power requirements and the need t...
Article
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Background Many birds species range over vast geographic regions and migrate seasonally between their breeding and overwintering sites. Deciding when to depart for migration is one of the most consequential life-history decisions an individual may make. However, it is still not fully understood which environmental cues are used to time the onset of...
Article
Quantifying movement and demographic events of free‐ranging animals is fundamental to studying their ecology, evolution and conservation. Technological advances have led to an explosion in sensor‐based methods for remotely observing these phenomena. This transition to big data creates new challenges for data management, analysis and collaboration....
Preprint
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Data acquisition in animal ecology is rapidly accelerating due to inexpensive and accessible sensors such as smartphones, drones, satellites, audio recorders and bio-logging devices. These new technologies and the data they generate hold great potential for large-scale environmental monitoring and understanding, but are limited by current data proc...
Preprint
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Bio-logging devices play a fundamental and indispensable role in movement ecology studies, particularly in the wild. However, researchers are becoming increasingly aware of the potential effects that attaching devices can have on animals, particularly on their behaviour, energy expenditure and survival. The way a device is attached to an animal's b...
Article
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Background Different theories suggest birds may use compass or map navigational systems associated with Earth’s magnetic intensity or inclination, especially during migratory flights. These theories have only been tested by considering properties of the Earth’s magnetic field at coarse temporal scales, typically ignoring the temporal dynamics of ge...
Article
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Flying over the open sea is energetically costly for terrestrial birds. Despite this, over-water journeys of many birds, sometimes hundreds of kilometres long, are uncovered by bio-logging technology. To understand how these birds afford their flights over the open sea, we investigated the role of atmospheric conditions, specifically wind and uplif...
Article
Thus far, ecophysiology research has predominantly been conducted within controlled laboratory-based environments, owing to a mismatch between the recording technologies available for physiological monitoring in wild animals and the suite of behaviours and environments they need to withstand, without unduly affecting subjects. While it is possible...
Article
In a seasonal world, organisms are continuously adjusting physiological processes relative to local environmental conditions. Owing to their limited heat and fat storage capacities, small animals, such as songbirds, must rapidly modulate their metabolism in response to weather extremes and changing seasons to ensure survival. As a consequence of pr...
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Individual variation is increasingly recognized as a central component of ecological processes, but its role in structuring environmental niche associations remains largely unknown. Species’ responses to environmental conditions are ultimately determined by the niches of single individuals, yet environmental associations are typically captured only...
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Vulture populations are in severe decline across Africa and prioritization of geographic areas for their conservation is urgently needed. To do so, we compiled three independent datasets on vulture occurrence from road-surveys, GPS-tracking, and citizen science (eBird), and used maximum entropy to build ensemble species distribution models (SDMs)....
Preprint
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1. Accelerometers in animal-attached tags have proven to be powerful tools in behavioural ecology, being used to determine behaviour and provide proxies for movement-based energy expenditure. Researchers are collecting and archiving data across systems, seasons and device types. However, in order to use data repositories to draw ecological inferenc...
Article
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Underwater visual surveys represent an essential component of coastal marine research and play a crucial role in supporting the management of marine systems. However, logistical and financial considerations can limit the availability of survey data in some systems. While biologging camera tag devices are being attached to an increasing diversity of...
Article
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The cover image is based on the Letter Efficient movement strategies mitigate the energetic cost of dispersal by James A. Klarevas‐Irby et al., https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13763.
Article
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Dispersal is a critical, but costly, stage of life. During the active phase of dispersal—called transience—individuals face many costs, from increased mortality to reduced foraging opportunities. One cost that is often assumed, but rarely explicitly tested, is the energy expended in making large dispersal movements. However, this cost is not only d...
Article
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Finding food is perhaps the most important task for all animals. Birds often show up unexpectedly at novel food sources such as freshly tilled fields or mown meadows. Here we test whether wild European white storks primarily use visual, social, auditory or olfactory information to find freshly cut farm pastures where insects and rodents abound. Aer...
Article
The avian hippocampal formation (HF) is homologous to the mammalian hippocampus and plays a central role in the control of spatial cognition. In homing pigeons, HF supports navigation by familiar landmarks and landscape features. However, what has remained relatively unexplored is the importance of HF for the retention of previously acquired spatia...
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Arctic migration presents unique challenges to circadian physiology. In addition to the metabolic cost of maintaining a relatively high body temperature (Tb) above ambient temperature, migratory birds are also exposed to rapidly changing light conditions as they transition between light-dark cycles and a 24-hour polar day. A previous study suggeste...
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Monitoring and early detection of emerging infectious diseases in wild animals is of crucial global importance, yet reliable ways to measure immune status and responses are lacking for animals in the wild. Here we assess the usefulness of bio-loggers for detecting disease outbreaks in free-living birds and confirm detailed responses using leukocyte...
Article
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The power curve provides a basis for predicting adjustments that animals make in flight speed, for example in relation to wind, distance, habitat foraging quality and objective. However, relatively few studies have examined how animals respond to the landscape below them, which could affect speed and power allocation through modifications in climb...
Article
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The power curve provides a basis for predicting adjustments that animals make in flight speed, for example in relation to wind, distance, habitat foraging quality and objective. However, relatively few studies have examined how animals respond to the landscape below them, which could affect speed and power allocation through modifications in climb...
Article
Birds striking aircraft cause substantial economic loss worldwide and, more worryingly, human and wildlife fatalities. Designing effective measures to avoid fatal bird strikes requires in‐depth knowledge of the characteristics of this incident type and the flight behaviors of the bird species involved. The characteristics of bird strikes involving...
Preprint
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Soaring birds use the energy available in the environment in the form of atmospheric uplifts, to subsidize their flight. Their dependence on soaring opportunities makes them extremely sensitive to anthropogenic wind energy development. Predictive modelling is now considered instrumental to forecast the impact of wind farms on single species of conc...
Article
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1. Seasonal geophysical cycles strongly influence the activity of life on Earth because they affect environmental conditions like temperature, precipitation, and daylength. An increase in daylight availability during summer is especially enhanced when animals migrate along a latitudinal gradient. Yet, the question of how daylength (i.e. daylight av...
Article
During the day, flying animals exploit the environmental energy landscape by seeking out thermal or orographic uplift, or extracting energy from wind gradients.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 However, most of these energy sources are not thought to be available at night because of the lower thermal potential in the nocturnal atmosphere, as well as the difficulty...
Article
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Background The use of tracking technologies is key for the study of animal movement and pivotal to ecological and conservation research. However, the potential effects of devices attached to animals are sometimes neglected. The impact of tagging not only rises welfare concerns, but can also bias the data collected, causing misinterpretation of the...
Article
The factors affecting the olfaction-based navigational performances of homing pigeons released at relatively long distance (beyond 100 km from home) have in the past been subject to several investigations both in Germany and Italy using observations of vanishing bearing distributions. These studies highlighted the complexity of long-distance naviga...
Article
Reliable estimates of nest‐switching are required to study avian mating systems and manage wild populations, yet different estimation methods have rarely been integrated or assessed. Through a literature review and case study, we reveal that three common methods for assessing nest‐switching blend different components, producing a wide range of esti...
Preprint
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The flight speeds that animals should adopt to minimise energy expenditure in different scenarios can be predicted by the curve of power against speed. However, relatively few studies have examined how animals respond to the landscape below them, which could affect speed through modifications in climb rate and perceived predation risk. We equipped...
Article
Populations of soaring birds are often impacted by wind-power generation. Sex and age bias in turbine collisions can exacerbate these impacts through demographic changes that can lead to population decline or collapse. While several studies have reported sex and age differences in the number of soaring birds killed by turbines, it remains unclear i...
Article
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Populations of soaring birds are often impacted by wind-power generation. Sex and age bias in turbine collisions can exacerbate these impacts through demographic changes that can lead to population decline or collapse. While several studies have reported sex and age differences in the number of soaring birds killed by turbines, it remains unclear i...
Article
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Wetlands are among the most productive and essential ecosystems on earth, but they are also highly sensitive and vulnerable to climate change and human disturbance. One of the current scientific challenges is to integrate high-resolution remote sensing data of wetlands with wildlife movements, a task we achieve here for dynamic waterbird movements....
Article
Early-life conditions have critical, long-lasting effects on the fate of individuals, yet early-life activity has rarely been linked to subsequent survival of animals in the wild. Using high-resolution GPS and body-acceleration data of 93 juvenile white storks ( Ciconia ciconia ), we examined the links between behaviour during both pre-fledging and...
Article
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Zöller et al. (Ethology, 2020) criticize our original publication (Wikelski et al., Ethology, 126(9), 2020, 931) for obvious reasons: we only observed the behavior of one group of farm animals before, during and after one earthquake series in one area of the world. It is clear that no earthquake predictions are possible, and should not be attempted...
Chapter
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Despite the popular view of tortoises as slow, sedentary plodders, movement is a critical aspect of the life of Galapagos tortoises. Galapagos tortoises move to find and exploit food resources, thermoregulate, find mates, locate nighttime resting sites, and much more in their heterogeneous habitats. More than a decade of global positioning system d...
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Preliminary results of the study of migrations and identification of key areas of the Transcaucasian Eurasian Crane (Grus grus archibaldi) using GPS transmitters are presented. Tracking juveniles tagged in 2017 in Georgia and in 2018 in Georgia and Armenia, showed that cranes from the northeastern part of the breeding range of this subspecies migra...
Article
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Soaring landbirds typically exploit atmospheric uplift as they fly overland, displaying a highly effective energy-saving locomotion. However, large water bodies lack thermal updrafts, potentially becoming ecological barriers that hamper migration. Here we assessed the effects of a sea surface on the migratory performance of GPS-tagged white storks...
Article
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The disturbance of wildlife by humans is a worldwide phenomenon that contributes to the loss of biodiversity. It can impact animals' behaviour and physiology, and this can lead to changes in species distribution and richness. Wildlife disturbance has mostly been assessed through direct observation. However, advances in bio-logging provide a new ran...
Article
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The Arctic is entering a new ecological state, with alarming consequences for humanity. Animal-borne sensors offer a window into these changes. Although substantial animal tracking data from the Arctic and subarctic exist, most are difficult to discover and access. Here, we present the new Arctic Animal Movement Archive (AAMA), a growing collection...