Arctic avian predators synchronise their spring migration with the northern progression of snowmelt
Curk, Teja; Pokrovsky, Ivan; Lecomte, Nicolas; Aarvak, Tomas; Brinker, David F.; Burnham, Kurt; Dietz, Andreas; Dixon, Andrew; Franke, Alastair; Gauthier, Gilles; Jacobsen, Karl-Otto; Kidd, Jeff; Lewis, Stephen B.; Øien, Ingar J.; Sokolov, Aleksandr; Sokolov, Vasiliy; Solheim, Roar; Weidensaul, Scott; Wiebe, Karen; Wikelski, Martin; Therrien, Jean-François; Safi, Kamran
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionCurk, T., Pokrovsky, I., Lecomte, N., Aarvak, T., Brinker, D. F., Burnham, K., Dietz, A., Dixon, A., Franke, A., Gauthier, G., Jacobsen, K. -O., Kidd, J., Lewis, S. B., Øien, I. J., Sokolov., Sokolov, V., Solheim, R., Weidensaul, S., Wiebe, K., Wikelski, M., Therrien, J.-F. & Safi, K. (2020). Arctic avian predators synchronise their spring migration with the northern progression of snowmelt. Scientific Reports, 10. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-63312-0
Migratory species display a range of migration patterns between irruptive (facultative) to regular (obligate), as a response to different predictability of resources. In the Arctic, snow directly influences resource availability. The causes and consequences of different migration patterns of migratory species as a response to the snow conditions remains however unexplored. Birds migrating to the Arctic are expected to follow the spring snowmelt to optimise their arrival time and select for snow-free areas to maximise prey encounter en-route. Based on large-scale movement data, we compared the migration patterns of three top predator species of the tundra in relation to the spatio-temporal dynamics of snow cover. The snowy owl, an irruptive migrant, the rough-legged buzzard, with an intermediary migration pattern, and the peregrine falcon as a regular migrant, all followed, as expected, the spring snowmelt during their migrations. However, the owl stayed ahead, the buzzard stayed on, and the falcon stayed behind the spatio-temporal peak in snowmelt. Although none of the species avoided snow-covered areas, they presumably used snow presence as a cue to time their arrival at their breeding grounds. We show the importance of environmental cues for species with different migration patterns.