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dc.contributor.authorRisely, Alice
dc.contributor.authorBlackburn, Emma
dc.contributor.authorCresswell, Will
dc.identifier.citationRisely , A , Blackburn , E & Cresswell , W 2015 , ' Patterns in departure phenology and mass gain on African non-breeding territories prior to the Sahara crossing for a long-distance migrant ' Ibis , vol. 157 , no. 4 , pp. 808-822 . DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12288en
dc.identifier.otherPURE: 205486502
dc.identifier.otherPURE UUID: 252ad498-766b-418d-9f3a-3534f316f2d8
dc.identifier.otherScopus: 84941182195
dc.descriptionThis work was supported by the British Ornithologists’ Union, the Linnean Society, the A.P. Leventis Foundation and Chris Goodwin.en
dc.description.abstractAfro-Palaearctic migrants are declining to a greater degree than other European species, suggesting that processes occurring in Africa or on migration may be driving these trends. Constraints in food availability on the wintering grounds may contribute to the declines but little is known about when and where these resource constraints may occur. Sufficient resources are particularly important prior to spring migration, when migrants must cross the Sahara desert. We examined mass gain and departure phenology in a long-distance Palaearctic passerine migrant to determine the degree to which pre-migratory fattening occurs in their long-term non-breeding territories in the Guinea Savannah region of Africa. We monitored 75 Whinchats Saxicola rubetra for departure from their non-breeding territories in one spring, and analysed mass data of 377 Whinchats collected over three non-breeding seasons plus 141 migrating Whinchats caught in April over eight years, all within the same few square kilometres of anthropogenically-modified Guinea Savannah in central Nigeria. Whinchats left their winter territories throughout April, with males departing on average eight days earlier than females. However, there was no evidence that time of departure from territory was linked to age, body size or mass at capture. Whinchats departed their territories with a predicted mass of 16.8 ± 0.3 g, which is much less than the ~24 g required for the average Whinchat to cross the Sahara directly. Comparing departure dates with arrival dates in southern Europe shows a discrepancy of at least two weeks, suggesting that many Whinchats spend considerable time on pre-migratory fuelling outside of their territory prior to crossing the Sahara. Over-wintering birds gained mass slowly during February and March (0.03 gd-1 34 ), and non-territorial or migrating birds at a much higher rate in April (at least 0.23 gd-1 35 ), with up to 20% of migrating Whinchats in April potentially having sufficient fuel loads to cross the Sahara directly from central Nigeria. Our results suggest that most Whinchats leave their winter territories to fatten up locally or, possibly, by staging further north. Resource constraints are therefore likely to be particularly focussed in West Africa during mid-April and possibly at staging areas before the crossing of the Sahara desert.en
dc.rightsThis is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Patterns in departure phenology and mass gain on African non-breeding territories prior to the Sahara crossing for a long-distance migrant Risely, A., Blackburn, E. & Cresswell, W. Oct 2015 In : Ibis. 157, 4, p. 808-822, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.en
dc.subjectPalaearctic migranten
dc.subjectFuel dispositionen
dc.subjectQH301 Biologyen
dc.titlePatterns in departure phenology and mass gain on African non-breeding territories prior to the Sahara crossing for a long-distance migranten
dc.typeJournal articleen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews. School of Biologyen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews. Scottish Oceans Instituteen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews. Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciencesen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews. St Andrews Sustainability Instituteen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews. Centre for Biological Diversityen
dc.description.statusPeer revieweden

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