Virtual Issue: The Ecology of Exercise

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The editorial teams of Functional Ecology and the Journal of Animal Ecology and Functional Ecology Associate Editor Professor Tony Williams are pleased to present this Virtual Issue on The Ecology of Exercise. This Virtual issue compliments the SICB symposium "The Ecology of Exercise: Mechanisms Underlying Individual Variation in Movement Behavior, Activity or Performance".

It is widely assumed that many activities that free-living animals perform, such as migration, must represent ‘hard work’, with individuals differing in their ability to support, or deal with the costs of, high intensity activity (e.g. elevated metabolic rate, increased oxidative stress). But how hard do free-living animals work during more routine activities, especially those that appear less obviously ‘intense’ but which still have important fitness consequences, such as daily foraging, escaping predators (or mates), pursuing prey or engaging in mating displays. What determines how hard individuals will work on specific activities? Is “exercise”, defined as activity that improves or maintains performance, a useful paradigm to apply to routine movement behaviour in free-living animals? Can animals work too hard, such that they pay costs of high levels of activity, and do concepts such as “over-training”, common in the human sports medicine literature, provide a model for costs of high levels of performance in free living animals?

Until recently, much work on “exercise" has been based in the laboratory (e.g. wheel- or treadmill-running in mammals and reptiles, birds flying in wind tunnels) and has been divorced from ecological context. To what extent these systems provide good models for understanding activity in free-living animals (during routine behaviours) remains unclear; do they help us understand the physiology of exercise in free-living animals? However, the rapid pace of recent technological advances (geolocators, GPS, accelerometers, automated tracking systems) are now giving biologists an unprecedented ability to track the behaviour of free-living animals 24/7. This will allow researchers to directly address questions of individual variation in movement behaviour, the specific physiological mechanisms underlying this variation and the fitness consequences of variation in movement.

We have selected a set of papers from Functional Ecology and the Journal of Animal Ecology, published in the last 3 years. These papers cover a wide range of taxa and a wide range of movement behaviours, and include several that illustrate the value of new tracking technologies, or analytical approaches. While the aim for this Virtual Issue is to generate discussions and to provide a sample of research published in this field, we hope the issue encourages future submissions to these Journals that utilise the power of new bio-tracking technologies, integrating behaviour, ecology, physiology and evolutionary biology to tackle broad questions about the ecology of exercise.


Success despite the stress: violet-green swallows increase glucocorticoids and maintain reproductive output despite experimental increases in flight costs
James W. Rivers, Gretchen N. Newberry, Carl J. Schwarz, Daniel R. Ardia

Physiological maturity at a critical life-history transition and flight ability at fledging
Allison Cornell, Kate F. Gibson, Tony D. Williams

Trade-offs among locomotor performance, reproduction and immunity in lizards
Jerry F. Husak, Haley A. Ferguson, Matthew B. Lovern

Movement correlates of lizards’ dorsal pigmentation patterns
Topaz Halperin, Liran Carmel, Dror Hawlena

Searching for prey in a three-dimensional environment: hierarchical movements enhance foraging success in northern elephant seals
Taiki Adachi, Daniel P. Costa, Patrick W. Robinson, Sarah H. Peterson, Masato Yamamichi, Yasuhiko Naito, Akinori Takahashi

Energy expenditure of adult green turtles (Chelonia mydas) at their foraging grounds and during simulated oceanic migration
Manfred R. Enstipp, Katia Ballorain, Stéphane Ciccione, Tomoko Narazaki, Katsufumi Sato, Jean-Yves Georges

Male sexually coercive behaviour drives increased swimming efficiency in female guppies
Shaun S. Killen, Darren P. Croft, Karine Salin, Safi K. Darden

Conquering the world in leaps and bounds: hopping locomotion in toads is actually bounding
Stephen M. Reilly, Stephane J. Montuelle, Andre Schmidt, Emily Naylor, Michael E. Jorgensen, Lewis G. Halsey, Richard L. Essner Jr

Prey density and distribution drive the three-dimensional foraging strategies of the largest filter feeder
Jeremy A. Goldbogen, Elliott L. Hazen, Ari S. Friedlaender, John Calambokidis, Stacy L. DeRuiter, Alison K. Stimpert, Brandon L. Southall

Aerobic scope predicts dominance during early life in a tropical damselfish
Shaun S. Killen, Matthew D. Mitchell, Jodie L. Rummer, Douglas P. Chivers, Maud C. O. Ferrari, Mark G. Meekan, Mark I. McCormick

Survival of the fattest? Indices of body condition do not predict viability in the brown anole (Anolis sagrei)
Robert M. Cox, Ryan Calsbeek

Exercise changes behaviour
Elektra L. E. Sinclair, Carolina R. Noronha de Souza, Ashley J. W. Ward and Frank Seebacher

Global patterns for upper ceilings on migration distance in sea turtles and comparisons with fish, birds and mammals
Graeme C. Hays, Rebecca Scott

Do animals exercise to keep fit?
Lewis G. Halsey

Fight-flight or freeze-hide? Personality and metabolic phenotype mediate physiological defence responses in flatfish
Emmanuel J. Rupia, Sandra A. Binning, Dominique G. Roche, Weiqun Lu

Movement is the glue connecting home ranges and habitat selection
Bram Van Moorter, Christer M. Rolandsen, Mathieu Basille, Jean-Michel Gaillard

The challenges of the first migration: movement and behaviour of juvenile vs. adult white storks with insights regarding juvenile mortality
Shay Rotics, Michael Kaatz, Yehezkel S. Resheff, Sondra Feldman Turjeman, Damaris Zurell, Nir Sapir, Ute Eggers, Andrea Flack, Wolfgang Fiedler, Florian Jeltsch, Martin Wikelski, Ran Nathan

Stuck in motion? Reconnecting questions and tools in movement ecology
Luca Börger

Ocean sunfish rewarm at the surface after deep excursions to forage for siphonophores
Itsumi Nakamura, Yusuke Goto, Katsufumi Sato

Contrasting responses of male and female foraging effort to year-round wind conditions
Sue Lewis, Richard A. Phillips, Sarah J. Burthe, Sarah Wanless, Francis Daunt

Diet complexity in early life affects survival in released pheasants by altering foraging efficiency, food choice, handling skills and gut morphology
Mark A. Whiteside, Rufus Sage, Joah R. Madden

Unravelling the annual cycle in a migratory animal: breeding-season habitat loss drives population declines of monarch butterflies
D. T. Tyler Flockhart, Jean-Baptiste Pichancourt, D. Ryan Norris, Tara G. Martin

Moving on with foraging theory: incorporating movement decisions into the functional response of a gregarious shorebird
Jan A. van Gils, Matthijs van der Geest, Brecht De Meulenaer, Hanneke Gillis, Theunis Piersma, Eelke O. Folmer

Age-related variation in energy expenditure in a long-lived bird within the envelope of an energy ceiling
Kyle H. Elliott, Maryline Le Vaillant, Akiko Kato, Anthony J. Gaston, Yan Ropert-Coudert, James F. Hare, John R. Speakman, Donald Croll

Foraging currencies, metabolism and behavioural routines
Alasdair I. Houston, John M. McNamara

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