One expected effect of climate change is the increase of tropical storms in frequency1 and intensity2, that can cause major disasters3,4. Improving our ability to predict their birth, intensity and trajectory is, therefore, a major challenge for research in next decades5.
Animal populations are also facing these extreme weather events and show adaptive specific behaviours that were selected. Thus, while predatory fish such as tuna appear to be attracted by warm waters that drive tropical storms6, avoidance behaviour has been observed in a small bird population7. This behaviour is probably due to the ability of birds to hear and interpret the infrasound8,9 produced by the cyclone vortex waves10,11.
The Alaskan Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica baueri and the Bristle-thighed Curlew Numenius tahitiensis are large shorebirds (weighing respectively 250g and 400g), breeding in Alaska and performing a spectacular non-stop migratory flight (ca 10.000 km in 5 or 6 days12–14) to reach their wintering grounds, respectively in New-Zealand13 and in Polynesia15.
These cyclones can be fatal to them during this migration and are a major source of important risk during their wintering. Consequently, they have had to adapt their behaviours to be able to manage these climatic phenomena, like the Alaskan bar-tailed godwit which chooses the departure time of their post-breeding migration trip to optimise the meteorologic conditions during a big part of the trip16.
Migration tracking of many individuals of these two shorebirds using satellite transmitters could be developed to better understand how the birds detect and avoid typhoons, to further improve the forecasts of such extreme climatic events.
Thus, thanks to an international collaboration, this interdisciplinary project has the ultimate goal to develop environmental security in the Pacific for human populations suffering from support dramatic consequences of devastating typhoons Our very innovative approach will also provide knowledge to target conservation efforts for these two bird species, the Curlew being furthermore classified as Vulnerable to extinction as its world population does not exceed 10.000 individuals17,18.
1. Knutson et al., 2010, Nat. Geosci. 3, 157–163; 2. Mei et al., 2015, Sci. Adv. 1, e1500014–e1500014; 3. Gettelman et al., 2017, Clim. Change 1–11; 4. Hsiang et al., 2017, Science (80-. ). 356, 1362–1369; 5. Leonardo et al., 2017, Weather Forecast. WAF-D-17-0058.1; 6. Luo et al., 2015, PLoS One 10, e0141101; 7. Streby et al., 2015, Curr. Biol. 25, 98–102; 8. Quine et al., 1981, J. Comp. Physiol. A 141, 153–155; 9. Hagstrum, 2013, J. Exp. Biol. 216, 687–699; 10. Akhalkatsi et al., 2011, Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. 137, 229–235; 11. Schecter et al., 2008, J. Atmos. Sci. 65, 685–713; 12. Gill et al., 2009, Proc. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 276, 447–457; 13. Battley et al., 2012, J. Avian Biol. 43, 21–32; 14. Marks et al., 2002, Birds North Am. ; 15. Sonsthagen et al., 2014, Conserv. Genet. 16, 223–233; 16. Gill et al., 2014, Anim. Behav. 90, 117–130; 17. Pearce-Higgins et al., 2017, Bird Conserv. Int. 27, 6–34; 18. Hof et al., 2017, Ecol. Appl. 27, 219–234;