Stable isotope ratios indicate that body condition in migrating passerines is influenced by winter habitat

Bearhop, S., Hilton, G.M., Votier, S.C. and Waldron, S. (2004) Stable isotope ratios indicate that body condition in migrating passerines is influenced by winter habitat. Royal Society, Biology Letters, 271(S4), pp. 215-218. (doi:10.1098/rsbl.2003.0129)



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Although predicted some time ago, there has been little success in demonstrating that the overall fitness of migratory birds depends on the combined influences of their experiences over all seasons. We used stable carbon isotope signatures (δ<sup>13</sup>C) in the claws of migrating black-throated blue warblers <i>Dendroica caerulescens</i> to infer their wintering habitats and investigated whether winter habitat selection can be linked to condition during migration. Resident bird species with low δ<sup>13</sup>C corresponded to selection of more mesic habitats, and migrating birds with low δ<sup>13</sup>C were in better condition than conspecifics with higher δ<sup>13</sup>C signatures. These findings concur with empirical observations on the wintering grounds, where dominants (mostly males) tend to exclude subordinates from mesic areas (considered to be high-quality habitats). We believe that variation in condition during migration may be one of the key factors determining differences in arrival times and condition at the breeding areas, which in turn have a major influence on reproductive success.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Waldron, Professor Susan
Authors: Bearhop, S., Hilton, G.M., Votier, S.C., and Waldron, S.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Royal Society, Biology Letters
Publisher:The Royal Society
Copyright Holders:© 2004 The Royal Society
First Published:First published in The Royal Society, Biology Letters 271 (S4):215-218
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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