Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Animal Migration

Ed. by Davis, Andrew

1 Issue per year

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Does predation danger on southward migration curtail parental investment by female western sandpipers?

Sarah Emily Jamieson / Ronald C Ydenberg
  • Centre for Wildlife Ecology, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Dr., Burnaby BC V5A 1S6, Canada3
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ David B Lank
  • Centre for Wildlife Ecology, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Dr., Burnaby BC V5A 1S6, Canada3
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2014-09-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/ami-2014-0004


Theory predicts that if extending parental care delays migratory departure, and if later migration is more dangerous, then parental care should be curtailed to make an earlier departure. Adult western sandpipers (Calidris mauri) depart Alaska in July, and the presence of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) along their route rises steeply during the migratory period. Pacific dunlins (C. alpina pacifica) are ecologically similar, but do not depart Alaska until October, after peregrine passage has peaked. Because peregrine migration begins earlier in years with early snowmelt, we predicted that the curtailment of parental investment by western sandpiper, but not of Pacific dunlins, should be more pronounced in these more dangerous years. We measured breeding phenology of these species on the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge during three seasons with strongly differing snowmelt timing. We found that they initiated breeding simultaneously, and that western sandpipers, but not Pacific dunlins, ceased laying increasingly earlier, provided increasingly less parental care and departed increasingly sooner as snowmelt was earlier. Advancing departure date by the overall average of 5.2d relative to dunlin reduces migratory exposure to peregrines by an estimated 18%. Our results support the hypothesis that natural selection has favored curtailment of parental investment by western sandpipers to advance migratory departure.

Keywords: maternal care; migration danger hypothesis; predation risk; seasonal variation; shorebirds; trade-offs; waders


  • [1] Clutton-Brock T.H., The evolution of parental care, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1991 Google Scholar

  • [2] Roff D.A., The evolution of life histories: theory and analysis, Chapman and Hall, New York, 1992 Google Scholar

  • [3] Stearns S.C., The evolution of life histories, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992 Google Scholar

  • [4] Trivers R.L., Parental investment and sexual selection, In: Campbell B. Ed., Sexual selection and the descent of man, 1871-1971, Aldine Publishing Co., Chicago, 1972 Google Scholar

  • [5] Myers J.P., Cross-seasonal interactions in the evolution of sandpiper social systems, Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 1981, 8, 195-202 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [6] Reynolds J.D., Székely T., The evolution of parental care in shorebirds: Life histories, ecology, and sexual selection, Behav. Ecol., 1997, 8, 126-134 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [7] Ydenberg R., Butler R.W., Lank D.B., Effects of predator landscapes on the evolutionary ecology of routing, timing and molt by long-distance migrants, J. Avian Biol., 2007, 38, 523-529 Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [8] Lank D.B., Butler R.W., Ireland J., Ydenberg R., Effects of predation danger on migration strategies of sandpipers, Oikos, 2003, 103, 303-319 Google Scholar

  • [9] Swaddle J.P., Witter M.S., The effects of molt on the flight performance, body mass, and behaviour of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris): an experimental approach, Can. J. Zool., 1997, 75, 1135-1146 Google Scholar

  • [10] Kullberg C., Jakobsson S., Fransson T., High migratory fuel loads impair predator evasion in sedge warblers, Auk, 2000, 117, 1034-1038 Google Scholar

  • [11] Burns J.G., Ydenberg R., The effects of wing loading and gender on the escape flights of least sandpipers (Calidris minutilla) and western sandpipers (Calidris mauri), Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 2002, 52, 128-136 Google Scholar

  • [12] Worcester R., Ydenberg R., Cross-continental patterns in the timing of southward peregrine falcon migration in North America, J. Raptor Res., 2008, 42, 13-19 CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [13] Hope D.D., Lank D.B., Smith B.D., Ydenberg R.C., Migration of two calidrid sandpiper species on the predator landscape: How stopover time and hence migration speed vary with geographical proximity to danger, J. Avian Biol., 2011, 42, 522-529 Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [14] Hope, D.D., Lank, D.B., Ydenberg, R.C.,. 2014. Mortality-minimizing sandpipers vary stopover behavior dependent on age and geographic proximity to migrating predators, Beh. Ecol. Sociobiol., 2014, 68, 827-838 Google Scholar

  • [15] Holmes R.T., Latitudinal differences in the breeding and molt schedules of Alaskan red-backed sandpipers (Calidris alpina), Condor, 1971, 73, 93-99 Google Scholar

  • [16] Gill Jr. R.E., Handel C.M., The importance of subarctic intertidal habitats to shorebirds: A study of the central Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, Condor, 1990, 92, 709-725 Google Scholar

  • [17 ] Warnock N.D., Gill Jr. R.E., Dunlin, No. 203, In: Poole A., Gill F. (Eds.), The birds of North America, Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, 1996 Google Scholar

  • [18] Niehaus A.C., Ecology of migratory timing for southbound male and female western sandpipers (Calidris mauri), MSc thesis, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, 2003 Google Scholar

  • [19] MacLean S.F., Pitelka F.A., Seasonal abundance of tundra arthropods near Barrow, Arctic, 1971, 24, 19-40 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [20] Lank D.B., Oring L.W., Maxson S.J., Mate and nutrient limitation of egg‑laying in a polyandrous shorebird, Ecology, 1985, 66, 1513-1524 Google Scholar

  • [21] Tulp I., Schekkerman H., Has prey availability for arctic birds advanced with climate change? Hindcasting the abundance of tundra arthropods using weather and seasonal variation, Arctic, 2008, 61, 48-60 Google Scholar

  • [22] Schekkerman H., Tulp I., Piersma T., Visser H.K., Mechanisms promoting higher growth rate in arctic than in temperate shorebirds, Oecologia, 2003, 134, 332-342 Google Scholar

  • [23] Ruthrauff D.R., McCaffery B.J., Survival of western sandpiper broods on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, Condor, 2005, 107, 597-604 Google Scholar

  • [24] Meltofte H., Piersma T., Boyd H., McCaffery B., Ganter B., Golovnyuk V.V., et al., Effects of climate variation on the breeding ecology of Arctic shorebirds. Meddelelser om Grønland Bioscience, 2007, 59, 1-48 Google Scholar

  • [25] Niehaus A.C., Ydenberg R., Ecological factors associated with the breeding and migratory phenology of high-latitude breeding western sandpipers, Polar Biol., 2006, 30, 11-17 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [26] Ruthrauff D.R., Keller J.N., Rizzolo D.J., Ecological factors regulating brood attendance patterns of the western sandpipers Calidris mauri, Ibis, 2009, 151, 523-534 Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [27] Jamieson S.E., Cross-seasonal factors affecting breeding investment by female Pacific dunlins, PhD thesis, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, 2009 Google Scholar

  • [28] Jamieson S.E., Pacific dunlin Calidris alpina pacifica show a high propensity for second clutch production, J. Ornithol., 2011, 152, 1013-1021 Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [29] Liebezeit J.R., Smith P.A., Lanctot R.B., Schekkerman H., Tulp I., Kendall S.J., et al., Assessing the development of shorebird eggs using the flotation method: Species-specific and generalized regression models. Condor, 2007, 109, 32-47 Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [30] Page G.W., Fearis B., Sexing western sandpipers by bill length, Bird Banding, 1971, 42, 297-298 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [31] Page G., Age, sex, molt and migration of dunlin at Bolinas Lagoon, Western Birds, 1974, 5, 1-12 Google Scholar

  • [32] Bart J., Tornes A., Importance of monogamous male birds in determining reproductive success: Evidence for house wrens and a review of male-removal studies, Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 1989, 24, 109-116 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [33] Székely T., Williams T.D., Costs and benefits of brood desertion in female Kentish plovers, Charadrius alexandrinus, Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 1995, 37, 155-166 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [34] Holmes R.T., Pitelka F.A., Food overlap among coexisting sandpipers on Northern Alaskan tundra, Syst. Zool., 1968, 17, 305-318 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [35] Holmes, R.T., Ecological factors influencing the breeding season schedule of western sandpipers (Calidris mauri) in subarctic Alaska, Am. Midl.Nat., 1972, 87, 472-491 Google Scholar

  • [36] Johnson M., McCaffery B., Use of upland tundra habitats by western and rock sandpipers during brood-rearing on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Wader Study Group Bull., 2004, 103, 36-39 Google Scholar

  • [37] Yosef R., Goldyn R., Zduniak P., Predation of migratory little stint (Calidris minuta) by Barbary falcon (Falco pelegrinoides) is dependent on body mass and duration of stopover time, J. Ethol., 2011, 26, 257-261 CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [38] Jamieson S.E., Body mass dynamics during incubation and duration of parental care in Pacific dunlins Calidris alpina pacifica: a test of the differential parental capacity hypothesis, Ibis, 2012, 154, 838-845 Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [39] Ydenberg, R.C., R.W. Butler, R.W., D.B. Lank, D.B., Smith, B.D., J. Ireland, J., Western sandpipers have altered migration tactics as peregrine falcon populations have recovered, Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B., 2004, 271, 1263-1269 Google Scholar

  • [40] Lehikoinen A., Advanced autumn migration of sparrowhawk has increased the predation risk of long-distance migrants in Finland. PLoS ONE, 2011, 6, e20001 Google Scholar

  • [41] Andersson M., Norberg R.Å., Evolution of reversed sexual size dimorphism and role partitioning among predatory birds. Biol. J. Linn. Soc., 1981, 15, 105-130 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [42] Blomqvist D., Johansson O.C., Unger U., Larsson M., Flodin L-Å., Male aerial display and reversed sexual size dimorphism in the dunlin, Anim. Behav., 1997, 54, 1291-1299 Google Scholar

  • [43] Székely T., Thomas G.H., Cuthill I.C., Sexual conflict, ecology, and breeding systems in shorebirds. BioScience, 2006, 56, 801-808 Google Scholar

  • [44] McNamara J.M., Houston A.I., Barta Z., Osorno J-L., Should young ever be better off with one parent than with two? Behav. Ecol., 2003, 14, 301-310 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Received: 2013-07-08

Accepted: 2014-09-10

Published Online: 2014-09-22

Citation Information: Animal Migration, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2084-8838, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/ami-2014-0004.

Export Citation

© 2014 Sarah Emily Jamieson et al.. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Eunbi Kwon, Willow B. English, Emily L. Weiser, Samantha E. Franks, David J. Hodkinson, David B. Lank, and Brett K. Sandercock
Ecology and Evolution, 2017
Qianyan Zhou, Wenjie Xue, Kun Tan, Qiang Ma, Xin Jin, Wei Wu, Chendong Tang, and Zhijun Ma
Emu, 2016, Volume 116, Number 2, Page 190

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in