Evolutionary Biology

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 48–59 | Cite as

Morphological Adaptations to Migration in Birds

  • Csongor I. Vágási
  • Péter L. Pap
  • Orsolya Vincze
  • Gergely Osváth
  • Johannes Erritzøe
  • Anders Pape Møller
Research Article

Abstract

Migratory flight performance has direct or carry-over effects on fitness. Therefore, selection is expected to act on minimizing the costs of migratory flight, which increases with the distance covered. Aerodynamic theory predicts how morphological adaptations improve flight performance. These predictions have rarely been tested in comparative analyses that account for scaling and phylogenetic effects. We amassed a unique dataset of 149 European bird species and 10 morphological traits. Mass-adjusted aspect ratio increased, while mass-adjusted heart weight and wing loading decreased with increasing migration distance. These results were robust to whether the analyses were based on the entire species pool or limited to passerines or migrants. Our findings indicate that selection due to migration acts on wing traits that reduce the energetic cost of transportation to increase the flight range. Consequently, the demands for high ‘exercise organ’ performance might be low, and hence such energetically expensive tissues are not associated (pectoral muscle) or are inversely associated (heart) with migration distance.

Keywords

Aerodynamics Functional morphology ‘Migratory syndrome’ Organ size Phylogenetic comparative analysis Wing morphology 

Supplementary material

11692_2015_9349_MOESM1_ESM.docx (58 kb)
ESM 1 The ESM provides (1) the R code used to compute migration distance from distribution maps, (2) the measurement, calculation and repeatability of wing morphology variables, (3) the usage of the scaling function, (4) the phylogenetic hypothesis, (5) the caption for the ESM2 file containing the entire dataset, and (6) the matrix of pairwise correlations between morphological traits (DOCX 58 kb)
11692_2015_9349_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (43 kb)
ESM 2 The entire dataset (.xlsx) with legend (XLSX 42 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Csongor I. Vágási
    • 1
    • 2
  • Péter L. Pap
    • 1
    • 2
  • Orsolya Vincze
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gergely Osváth
    • 2
    • 3
  • Johannes Erritzøe
    • 4
  • Anders Pape Møller
    • 5
  1. 1.MTA-DE “Lendület” Behavioural Ecology Research Group, Department of Evolutionary ZoologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  2. 2.Evolutionary Ecology Group, Hungarian Department of Biology and EcologyBabeş-Bolyai UniversityCluj NapocaRomania
  3. 3.Museum of ZoologyBabeş-Bolyai UniversityCluj NapocaRomania
  4. 4.Taps Old RectoryChristiansfeldDenmark
  5. 5.Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, CNRS UMR 8079Université Paris-SudOrsay CedexFrance

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