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Built up areas in a wet landscape are stepping stones for soaring flight in a seabird
Sage, E.; Bouten, W.; van Dijk, W.; Camphuysen, C.J.; Shamoun-Baranes, J. (2022). Built up areas in a wet landscape are stepping stones for soaring flight in a seabird. Sci. Total Environ. 852: 157879.
In: Science of the Total Environment. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0048-9697; e-ISSN 1879-1026, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Larus Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Energy landscape; Gulls; FlightThermal convection; Bio-logging; Land use

Authors  Top 
  • Sage, E.
  • Bouten, W.
  • van Dijk, W.
  • Camphuysen, C.J., more
  • Shamoun-Baranes, J.

    The energy exchange between the Earth's surface and atmosphere results in a highly dynamic habitat through which birds move. Thermal uplift is an atmospheric feature which many birds are able to exploit in order to save energy in flight, but which is governed by complex surface-atmosphere interactions. In mosaic landscapes consisting of multiple land uses, the spatial distribution of thermal uplift is expected to be heterogenous and birds may use the landscape selectively to maximise flight over areas where thermal soaring opportunities are best. Flight generalists such as the lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus, are expected to be less reliant on thermal uplift than obligate soaring birds. Nevertheless, gulls may select flight behaviours and routes in response to or in anticipation of thermal uplift in order to reduce their transport costs, even in landscapes where thermal uplift isn't prevalent. We explore thermal soaring over land in lesser black-backed gulls by using high-resolution GPS tracking to characterise individual instances of thermal soaring and detailed energy exchange modelling to map the thermal landscape which gulls experience. We determine that lesser black-backed gulls are regularly able to undertake thermal soaring, even in a wet temperate landscape below sea level. By examining the relationship between lesser black-backed gull flight, thermal uplift and land use, we determine that built up areas, particularly towns and cities, provide thermal uplift hotspots which lesser black-backed gulls preferentially make use of, resulting in more opportunities for energy saving flight through thermal soaring.

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