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      Migration strategy of a flight generalist, the Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

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      Behavioral Ecology

      Oxford University Press (OUP)

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          Competition for early arrival in migratory birds

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            Tracking long-distance songbird migration by using geolocators.

            We mapped migration routes of migratory songbirds to the Neotropics by using light-level geolocators mounted on breeding purple martins (Progne subis) and wood thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina). Wood thrushes from the same breeding population occupied winter territories within a narrow east-west band in Central America, suggesting high connectivity of breeding and wintering populations. Pace of spring migration was rapid (233 to 577 kilometers/day) except for one individual (159 kilometers/day) who took an overland route instead of crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Identifying songbird wintering areas and migration routes is critical for predicting demographic consequences of habitat loss and climate change in tropical regions.
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              Tropical winter habitat limits reproductive success on the temperate breeding grounds in a migratory bird.

              Identifying the factors that control population dynamics in migratory animals has been constrained by our inability to track individuals throughout the annual cycle. Using stable carbon isotopes, we show that the reproductive success of a long-distance migratory bird is influenced by the quality of habitat located thousands of kilometres away on tropical wintering grounds. For male American redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla), winter habitat quality influenced arrival date on the breeding grounds, which in turn affected key variables associated with reproduction, including the number of young fledged. Based on a winter-habitat model, females occupying high-quality winter habitat were predicted to produce more than two additional young and to fledge offspring up to a month earlier compared with females wintering in poor-quality habitat. Differences of this magnitude are highly important considering redstarts are single brooded, lay clutches of only three to five eggs and spend only two-and-a-half months on the breeding grounds. Results from this study indicate the importance of understanding how periods of the annual cycle interact for migratory animals. Continued loss of tropical wintering habitat could have negative effects on migratory populations in the following breeding season, minimizing density-dependent effects on the breeding grounds and leading to further population declines. If conservation efforts are to be successful, strategies must incorporate measures to protect all the habitats used during the entire annual cycle of migratory animals.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Behavioral Ecology
                Behavioral Ecology
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                1045-2249
                1465-7279
                December 19 2011
                August 30 2011
                : 23
                : 1
                : 58-68
                Article
                10.1093/beheco/arr150
                © 2011

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