Considerations of varied thermoregulatory expressions in migration theory

Jeff Clerc, Liam P. McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Optimal migration theory has been used for three decades to generate predictions of stopover behavior and understand migration ecology. Yet, to date, there have been no attempts to understand the impacts of thermoregulation on migration theory predictions of stopover behavior. Though most migrants are homeothermic, a diverse group of migrants from bats to hummingbirds and warblers make use of some degree of heterothermy. We consider how thermoregulation influences stopover fuel deposition rates, and thus alters optimal migration theory predictions of stopover behavior using a hypothetical migratory bat as a model organism. We update the analytical models of optimal migration theory by considering scenarios of fixed metabolic rate (the current assumption of optimal migration theory) and three different mass-specific metabolic rates including homeothermy, shallow torpor heterothermy and deep torpor heterothermy. Our results predict that heterotherms will make shorter stopovers, have a decreased departure fuel load, and reduce the overall time and energy costs associated with stopovers relative to homeotherms, highlighting that thermoregulation can drastically influence stopover behavior and ultimately play a critical role in population level patterns of migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1739-1749
Number of pages11
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • migration ecology
  • optimal migration theory
  • stopover ecology
  • thermoregulation
  • torpor-assisted migration


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