High altitude flights by ruddy shelduck Tadorna ferruginea during trans-Himalayan migrations
Journal of Avian Biology
© 2017 The Authors. Journal of Avian Biology © 2017 Nordic Society Oikos
Reason for embargo
Under embargo until 1 September 2018 in compliance with publisher policy.
Birds that migrate across high altitude mountain ranges are faced with the challenge of maintaining vigorous exercise in environments with limited oxygen. Ruddy shelducks are known to use wintering grounds south of the Tibetan Plateau at sea level and breeding grounds north of Himalayan mountain range. Therefore, it is likely these shelducks are preforming high altitude migrations. In this study we analyse satellite telemetry data collected from 15 ruddy shelduck from two populations wintering south of the Tibetan Plateau from 2007 to 2011. During north and south migrations ruddy shelduck travelled 1481 km (range 548–2671 km) and 1238 km (range 548–2689 km) respectively. We find mean maximum altitudes of birds in flight reached 5590 m (range of means 4755–6800 m) and mean maximum climb rates of 0.45 m s –1 (range 0.23–0.74 m s –1 ). The ruddy shelduck is therefore an extreme high altitude migrant that has likely evolved a range of physiological adaptations in order to complete their migrations.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 48 (10), pp. 1310 - 1315