Using accelerometry to compare costs of extended migration in an arctic herbivore

Mitch D. Weegman*, Stuart Bearhop, Geoff M. Hilton, Alyn J. Walsh, Larry Griffin, Yehezkel S. Resheff, Ran Nathan, Anthony David Fox

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Understanding how individuals manage costs during the migration period is challenging because individuals are difficult to follow between sites; the advent of hybrid Global Positioning System-acceleration (ACC) tracking devices enables researchers to link spatial and temporal attributes of avian migration with behavior for the first time ever. We fitted these devices on male Greenland white-fronted geese Anser albifrons flavirostris wintering at 2 sites (Loch Ken, Scotland and Wexford, Ireland) to understand whether birds migrating further during spring fed more on wintering and staging areas in advance of migration episodes. Although Irish birds flew significantly further (ca. 300 km) than Scottish birds during spring, their cumulative hours of migratory flight, flight speed during migration, and overall dynamic body ACC (i.e., a proxy for energy expenditure) were not significantly different. Further, Irish birds did not feed significantly more or expend significantly more energy in advance of migration episodes. These results suggest broad individual plasticity in this species, although Scottish birds arriving on breeding areas in Greenland with greater energy stores (because they migrated less) may be better prepared for food scarcity, which might increase their reproductive success.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)667-674
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Zoology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author (2017). Published by Oxford University Press.


  • Avian migration cost
  • Energy expenditure
  • Global positioning system-acceleration tracking devices
  • Greenland whitefronted geese
  • Individual decision-making
  • Proportion of time feeding


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