Optimization of dynamic soaring in a flap-gliding seabird affects its large-scale distribution at sea

James A. Kempton*, Joe Wynn, Sarah Bond, James Evry, Annette L. Fayet, Natasha Gillies, Tim Guilford, Marwa Kavelaars, Ignacio Juarez-Martinez, Oliver Padget, Christian Rutz, Akiko Shoji, Martyna Syposz, Graham K. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)


Dynamic soaring harvests energy from a spatiotemporal wind gradient, allowing albatrosses to glide over vast distances. However, its use is challenging to demonstrate empirically and has yet to be confirmed in other seabirds. Here, we investigate how flap-gliding Manx shearwaters optimize their flight for dynamic soaring. We do so by deriving a new metric, the horizontal wind effectiveness, that quantifies how effectively flight harvests energy from a shear layer. We evaluate this metric empirically for fine-scale trajectories reconstructed from bird-borne video data using a simplified flight dynamics model. We find that the birds' undulations are phased with their horizontal turning to optimize energy harvesting. We also assess the opportunity for energy harvesting in long-range, GPS-logged foraging trajectories and find that Manx shearwaters optimize their flight to increase the opportunity for dynamic soaring during favorable wind conditions. Our results show how small-scale dynamic soaring affects large-scale Manx shearwater distribution at sea.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabo0200
Number of pages18
JournalScience Advances
Issue number22
Early online date1 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Optimization of dynamic soaring in a flap-gliding seabird affects its large-scale distribution at sea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this