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A dispersive migration in the atlantic Puffin and its implications for migratory navigation

Guilford, T; Freeman, R; Boyle, D; Dean, B; Kirk, H; Phillips, R; Perrins, C; (2011) A dispersive migration in the atlantic Puffin and its implications for migratory navigation. PLOS ONE , 6 (7) , Article e21336. 10.1371/journal.pone.0021336. Green open access


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Navigational control of avian migration is understood, largely from the study of terrestrial birds, to depend on either genetically or culturally inherited information. By tracking the individual migrations of Atlantic Puffins, Fratercula arctica, in successive years using geolocators, we describe migratory behaviour in a pelagic seabird that is apparently incompatible with this view. Puffins do not migrate to a single overwintering area, but follow a dispersive pattern of movements changing through the non-breeding period, showing great variability in travel distances and directions. Despite this within-population variability, individuals show remarkable consistency in their own migratory routes among years. This combination of complex population dispersion and individual route fidelity cannot easily be accounted for in terms of genetic inheritance of compass instructions, or cultural inheritance of traditional routes. We suggest that a mechanism of individual exploration and acquired navigational memory may provide the dominant control over Puffin migration, and potentially some other pelagic seabirds, despite the apparently featureless nature of the ocean.

Type: Article
Title: A dispersive migration in the atlantic Puffin and its implications for migratory navigation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021336
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0021336
Language: English
Additional information: © 2011 Guilford et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. This work was funded with the help of Microsoft Research Cambridge, Oxford University, and a Natural Environment Research Council studentship (Ben Dean). The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science > CoMPLEX: Mat&Phys in Life Sci and Exp Bio
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1338159
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