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Nathusius' bats optimize long-distance migration by flying at maximum range speed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb176396
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume222
Issue number4
Early online date26 Feb 2019
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 25 Jan 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 26 Feb 2019
DatePublished (current) - Feb 2019

Abstract

Aerial migration is the fastest, yet most energetically demanding way of seasonal movement between habitats. However, for many taxa, and bats in particular, we lack a clear understanding of the energy requirements for migration. Here, we examined the energetic cost and flight speed of the long-distance migratory Nathusius' bat (Pipistrellus nathusii). We measured flight metabolism in relation to airspeed in a wind tunnel, inferred the optimal traveling speed over long distances, i.e. maximum range speed, and compared this value with flight speed measured in wild conspecifics. Body mass and wing morphologies were similar in captive and wild bats, indicating that the body condition of captive bats was similar to that of migratory bats. Nine out of the 12 captive bats exhibited a U-shaped relationship between flight metabolic power and airspeed when flying in the wind tunnel. The flight metabolic rate across all airspeeds averaged 0.98±0.28 W, which corresponds well to established allometric relationships between flight metabolic rate and body mass for bats. During summer migration, P. nathusii traveled at an average speed of 6.9±0.7 m s-1, which was significantly higher than the minimum power speed (5.8±1.0 m s-1), yet within the range of expected maximum range speed inferred from wind tunnel experiments. This suggests that P. nathusii may migrate at an energetically optimal speed and that aerial refueling does not substantially lower migratory speed in P. nathusii.

    Research areas

  • Energy consumption, Flight metabolism, Flight speed, Migration physiology, Pipistrellus nathusii, Power curve

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  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Company of Biologists at http://jeb.biologists.org/content/222/4/jeb176396 . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 448 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 26/02/20

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