Supplementary material from "Social eavesdropping allows for a more risky gliding strategy by thermal-soaring birds"

Published on 2018-10-31T14:31:20Z (GMT) by
Vultures are thought to form networks in the sky, with individuals monitoring the movements of others to gain up-to-date information on resource availability. While it is recognized that social information facilitates the search for carrion, how this facilitates the search for updrafts, another critical resource, remains unknown. In theory, birds could use information on updraft availability to modulate their flight speed, increasing their airspeed when informed on updraft location. In addition, the stylized circling behaviour associated with thermal soaring is likely to provide social cues on updraft availability for any bird operating in the surrounding area. We equipped five <i>Gyps</i> vultures with GPS and airspeed loggers to quantify the movements of birds flying in the same airspace. Birds that were socially informed on updraft availability immediately adopted higher airspeeds on entering the inter-thermal glide; a strategy that would be risky if birds were relying on personal information alone. This was embedded within a broader pattern of a reduction in airspeed (approx. 3 m s<sup>−1</sup>) through the glide, likely reflecting the need for low speed to sense and turn into the next thermal. Overall, this demonstrates, (i) the complexity of factors affecting speed selection over fine temporal scales and (ii) that <i>Gyps</i> vultures respond to social information on the occurrence of energy in the aerial environment, which may reduce uncertainty in their movement decisions.

Cite this collection

Williams, Hannah J.; King, Andrew J.; Duriez, Olivier; Börger, Luca; L. C. Shepard, Emily (2018): Supplementary material from "Social eavesdropping allows for a more risky gliding strategy by thermal-soaring birds". The Royal Society. Collection.