Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

Individuality in bird migration: routes and timing

  • Yannis Vardanis
  • Raymond Klaassen
  • Roine Strandberg
  • Thomas Alerstam
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 502-505
Publication/Series: Biology letters
Volume: 7
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Royal Society

Abstract english

The exploration of animal migration has entered a new era with individual-based tracking during multiple years. Here, we investigated repeated migratory journeys of a long-distance migrating bird, the marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus, in order to analyse the variation within and between individuals with respect to routes and timing. We found that there was a stronger individual repeatability in time than in space. Thus, the annual timing of migration varied much less between repeated journeys of the same individual than between different individuals, while there was considerable variation in the routes of the same individual on repeated journeys. The overall contrast in repeatability between time and space was unexpected and may be owing to strong endogenous control of timing, while short-term variation in environmental conditions (weather and habitat) might promote route flexibility. The individual variation in migration routes indicates that the birds navigate mainly by other means than detailed route recapitulation based on landmark recognition.


  • Zoology
  • Behavioral Sciences Biology
  • avian migration
  • satellite-tracking
  • repeatability
  • routes
  • timing


  • CAnMove
  • ISSN: 1744-9561
Thomas Alerstam
E-mail: thomas [dot] alerstam [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emeritus

Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 37 85


Sölvegatan 37, Lund