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Novel approach to track migration of arctic-breeding avian species
Date:1/15/2013

her colleagues try to determine how snow bunting populations are linked in space and time. Considering that the snow bunting poses an extra challenge to monitor due to its inaccessible breeding locations, nomadic lifestyle and small body size, they argue, combining multiple sources of data is the most appropriate approach to track patterns of the birds' migratory connectivity.

The authors discovered that the population of snow buntings in North America is divided. The individuals to the east of Hudson Bay do not regularly mix with the ones to the west of Hudson Bay. These two sub-populations also migrate different distances. The article supports the idea that thorough studies into this species need to embrace a versatile mix of data - including geolocator technology, stable-isotope analysis , mark-recapture (banding) data along with citizen science data. Macdonald and colleagues show strong evidence for an east-west parallel migratory system, with Hudson Bay acting as a migratory divide. While band recoveries suggest strong migratory connectivity among eastern wintering populations (more than 95% of band recoveries reveal connections between western Greenland and eastern North America), novel application of geolocators and stable-hydrogen isotope analysis to a Canadian breeding population reveal a high degree of migratory connectivity within western North American wintering populations.

Both sub-populations need to be conserved in order to save the overall population and, more importantly, the effects of global warming and other anthropogenic changes on one sub-population may be different from its effects on the other sub-population.

The mixed-data approach described in Animal Migration (with geolocators being used for the first time on arctic-breeding passerines) is innovative and still uncommon but a better understanding of winter movement and connectivity between wintering and breeding populations should help direct timely conservation
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Contact: Maria Hrynkiewicz
maria@versita.com
48-660-476-421
Versita
Source:Eurekalert

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