Behavioural evidence for heat-load problems in Great Knots in tropical Australia fuelling for long-distance flight

Phillip Battley, Daniel Rogers, Theunis Piersma, Anita Koolhaas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Migratory shorebirds that live in the tropics prior to embarking on long (>5000 km) flights may face heat-load problems. The behaviour of a large sandpiper, the Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), was studied in Roebuck Bay, north-west Australia, from February to April 2000. We determined the incidence of heat-reduction behaviour in foraging and roosting birds in relation to breeding-plumage score (an index of migratory preparation) and microclimate variables. Heat-reduction behaviour (primarily raising the back feathers) was significantly related to breeding-plumage score and solar radiation. Raising back feathers may reduce the external heat load for a bird, or increase convective or cutaneous evaporative cooling. The results suggest that managing heat loads in tropical-wintering waders may become more difficult close to departure on migration.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)97-103
    Number of pages7
    JournalEmu
    Volume103
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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