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 …

Migration strategy predicts stopover ecology in shorebirds on the northern Gulf of Mexico

Jessica Renee Henkel / Caz M. Taylor
Published Online: 2015-10-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ami-2015-0003


Twenty-eight species of migratory shorebirds rely on the coastlines of the northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) to fuel migrations to near-arctic breeding grounds. Shorebird species vary in their migration ecology: some species use a “jump” strategy, migrating long distances without stopping, while others use “skip” and “hop” strategies, stopping to refuel at shorter intervals along their journey. We compared stopover duration, body condition (fat scores and size-adjusted mass), and refueling rates (plasma metabolite concentrations), in three Calidrid sandpiper species (Calidris pusilla, C. mauri, and C. alpina) that differ in migration strategy after leaving the NGOM during spring. Results indicate that, while birds refueled at similar rates, C. alpina, an intermediate distance jump migrant, reached higher fuel stores before departing on migration than the hop and skip migrants, C. pusilla and C. mauri. C. alpina also spent more time on the NGOM than the other two species. Results suggest that NGOM habitats may be particularly important for migration success in C. alpina. This knowledge will help us predict the potential population level consequences of habitat loss due to global change on NGOM shorebird populations and develop conservation plans to mitigate these impacts.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords : Sandpipers; refueling rates; plasma metabolites; fuel stores; migratory fitness


  • [1] Miner, M. D., Kulp, M., Flocks, J., Twichell, D., Penland, L, S., Martinez, L. et al. Louisiana barrier island comprehensive monitoring program, vol. 3, south-central Louisiana and Northern Chandeleur Islands, bathymetry and historical seafloor change 1873-2006, Part 1: Methods and error analysis for bathymetry, University of New Orleans Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences Technical Report, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Baton Rouge, LA, 2009 Google Scholar

  • [2] Withers, K. 2002. Shorebird use of coastal wetland and barrier island habitat in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientific World J., 2, 514-536 Google Scholar

  • [3] Henkel, J.R., Sigel, B.J, Taylor, C.M. Large-scale impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: can local disturbance affect distant ecosystems through migratory shorebirds?, BioScience, 2012, 62, 676-6850 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [4] Andres, B.A., Smith, P.A., Morrison, R.I.G., Gratto-Trevor, C.L., Brown, S.C., Friss, CA. Population estimates of North American shorebirds, 2012, Wader Study Group Bull., 119, 178-194 Google Scholar

  • [5] U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan Partnership, U.S. Shorebirds of Conservation Concern ─ 2015, 2015, http://www. shorebirdplan.org/science/assessment-conservation-statusshorebirds Google Scholar

  • [6] Piersma, T. Close to the Edge: Energetic bottlenecks and the evolution of migratory pathways in Knots. Ph.D. thesis, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands, 1994 Google Scholar

  • [7] Ens, B. J., Piersma, T., Drent, R.H. 1994. The Dependence of Waders and Waterfowl Migrating Along the East Atlantic Flyway on Their Coastal Food Supplies: What Is the Most Profitable Research Programme?, Ophelia, 1994, 6, 127-15 Google Scholar

  • [8] Baker, A.J., Gonzalez, P.M., Piersma, T., Niles, L.J., de Lima, I., do Nascimento, S., et al. Rapid population decline in Red Knots: fitness consequences of decreased refueling rates and late arrival in Delaware Bay, Proc. Biol. Sci., 2004, 271, 875–882 Google Scholar

  • [9] Newton, I. Can Conditions Experienced During Migration Limit the Population Levels of Birds?, J. Ornithol., 2006, 147, 146-166 Google Scholar

  • [10] Mizrahi, D., Peters, K. A., Hodgetts, P. A. Energetic condition of Semipalmated and Least sandpipers during northbound migration staging periods in Delaware Bay, Waterbirds, 2012, 35, 135-145 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [11] Alerstam, T., Lindstrom, A. Optimal bird migration: the relative importance of time, energy, and safety, In: Gwinner, E. (Ed.), Bird migration: physiology and ecophysiology, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1990 Google Scholar

  • [12] Gudmundsson, G.A., A. Lindstrom, and T. Alerstam. 1991. Optimal fat loads and long distance flights by migrating Knots Calidris canutus, Sanderlings C. alba and Turnstones Arenaria interpres. Ibis 133: 140-152 Google Scholar

  • [13] Piersma, T. Hop, skip, or jump? Constraints on migration of arctic waders by feeding, fattening, and flight speed, Limosa, 1987, 60, 185-194 (in Dutch) Google Scholar

  • [14] Skagen, S.K., Sharpe, P.B., Waltermire, R.G., Dillon, M.B. Biogeographical profiles of shorebird migration in midcontinental North America. Biological Science Report USGS/BRD/ BSR 2000-0003, Denver, CO, 1999 Google Scholar

  • [15] Alerstam, T., Hendenström, A. The development of bird migration theory, J. Avian Biol., 1998, 29, 343-369 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [16] Piersma, T. Phenotypic Flexibility During Migration: Optimization of Organ Size Contingent on the Risks and Rewards of Fueling and Flight?, J. Avian Biol., 1998, 29, 511-520 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [17] Lyons, J.E., Haig, S.M. Fat content and stopover ecology of spring migrant Semipalmated Sandpipers in South Carolina, Condor, 1995, 97, 427-437 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [18] Farmer, A.H., Wiens, J.A., Models and reality: time-energy trade-offs in Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) migration, Ecology, 1999, 80, 2566-2580 Google Scholar

  • [19] Jehl, J. R., Fat loads and Flightlessness in Wilson’s Phalaropes, Condor, 1997, 99, 538-543 Google Scholar

  • [20] Warnock, N., Stopping Vs. Staging: The Difference between a Hop and a Jump, J. Avian Biol., 2010, 41, 621-626 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [21] Alerstam, T., Enckell, P.H., Unpredictable habitats and evolution of bird migration, Oikos, 1979, 33, 228–232 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [22] Obernuefemann, K.P., Collazo, J.A., Lyons, J.E., Local movements and wetland connectivity at a migratory stopover of Semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) in the southeastern United States, Waterbirds, 36, 63-76 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [23] Pitelka, F., Numbers, Breeding Schedules, and Territoriality in Pectoral Sandpipers of Northern Alaska, Condor, 1959, 61, 233-264 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [24] Fernández, G., Lank, D. B., Sex, Age, and Body Size Distributions of Western Sandpipers During the Nonbreeding Season with Respect to Local Habitat, Condor, 2006, 108, 547-557 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [25] Warnock, N.D., Apparent age-segregation of Dunlin within Bolinas Lagoon – a preliminary study, Wader Study Group Bull., 1990, 60, 27-30 Google Scholar

  • [26] Cresswell, W., Age-dependent choice of Redshank (Tringa totanus) feeding location: profitability or risk? J. Anim. Ecol., 1994, 63, 589–600 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [27] Shepherd, P.C., Lank, D.B., Smith, B.D., Warnock, N., Kaiser, G.W., Williams, T.W., Sex Ratios of Dunlin Wintering at Two Latitudes on the Pacific Coast. Condor, 2001, 103, 351-357 Google Scholar

  • [28] Myers, J. P., A Test of Three Hypotheses for Latitudinal Segregation of the Sexes in Wintering Birds, Can J of Zool, 1991, 59, 1527-1534 Google Scholar

  • [29] Shepherd, P. C., Lank, D. B., Marine and Agricultural Habitat Preferences of Dunlin Wintering in British Columbia. J. Wildl. Manage., 2004, 68, 61-73 Google Scholar

  • [30] Nebel, S., Lank, D.B., O’Hara, P.D., Fernández, G., Haase, B., Delgado, et al., Western Sandpiper (Calidris Mauri) During the Nonbreeding Season: Spatial Segregation on a Hemispheric Scale, Auk, 2002, 119, 922-928 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [31] Skagen, S. K. Stopover ecology of transitory populations: the case of migrant shorebirds. In: Knopf, F.L., Samson, F.B. (eds.), Ecology and conservation of Great Plains vertebrates, Springer- Verlag, New York, NY, 1996 Google Scholar

  • [32] Stillman, R.A., West, A.D. , Caldow, R.W.G., Le V. Dit Durell, S.E.A., Predicting the effect of disturbance on coastal birds, Ibis, 2007, 149, 73-81 Google Scholar

  • [33] Coblentz, K., Henkel, J.R. Sigel, B., Taylor, C.M., Influence of sediment characteristics on the composition of soft-sediment intertidal communities in the northern Gulf of Mexico, PeerJ 2015, 3:e1014; doi: 10.7717/peerj.1014 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [34] Jenni-Eiermann, S., Jenni, L., Plasma metabolite levels predict individual body-mass changes in a small long-distance migrant, the Garden Warbler, Auk, 1994, 111, 888-899 Google Scholar

  • [35] Williams, T. D., Guglielmo, C.G., Egeler, O., Martyniuk, C.J., Plasma lipid metabolites provide information on mass change over several days in captive Western Sandpipers, Auk, 1999, 116, 994-1000 Google Scholar

  • [36] Guglielmo, C. G., O’Hara, P. D., Williams, T. D., Extrinsic and intrinsic sources of variation in plasma lipid metabolites of free-living Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri), Auk, 2002, 119, 437-445 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [37] Guglielmo, C.G., Cerasale, D.J., Eldermire, C., A field validation of plasma metabolite profiling to assess refueling performance of migratory birds, Physiol. Biochem., Zool., 2005, 78, 116-125 Google Scholar

  • [38] Seaman, D. A. Effects of physiological state, mass change and diet on plasma metabolite profiles in the Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri. J. Exp. Biol., 2005, 208, 761-769 Google Scholar

  • [39] Cerasale, D. J., Guglielmo, C.G., Plasma metabolite profiles: Effects of dietary phospholipids in a migratory passerine (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii), Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 2006, 79, 754–762 Google Scholar

  • [40] Seaman, D. A., Guglielmo, C.G., Elner, R. W., Williams, T.D., Landscape-scale physiology: site differences in refueling rates indicated by plasma metabolite analysis in free-living migratory sandpipers, Auk, 2006, 123, 563-574 Google Scholar

  • [41] Thomas, N.E., Swanson, D.L, Plasma metabolites and creatine kinase levels of shorebirds during fall migration in the prairie pothole region, Auk, 2013, 130, 580-590 Google Scholar

  • [42] Prater, A.J., Marchant, J H., Vuorinen, J., Guide to the identification and ageing of Holarctic waders, British Trust for Ornithology, Tring, UK, 1977 Google Scholar

  • [43] Helms, C.W., Drury, W.H., Winter and migratory weight and fat field study on some North American buntings, Bird-Banding, 1960, 31, 1- 40 Google Scholar

  • [44] Winker, K., Warner, D.W., Weisbrod, A.R., Daily mass gains among woodland migrants at an inland stopover site, Auk, 1992, 109, 853-862 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [45] Hicklin, P.W., Chardine, J.W., The morphometrics of migrant Semipalmated Sandpipers in the Bay of Fundy: evidence for declines in the eastern breeding population, Waterbirds, 2012, 35, 74-82 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [46] Williams, J.B., Ricklefs, R.E., Tieleman, B.I., Visser, G.H. Does growth rate determine the rate of metabolism in shorebird chicks living in the Arctic?, Physiol. Biochem. Zool., 2007, 80, 500-513 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [47] Schaub, M., Jenni, L., Variation of fuelling rates among sites, days and individuals in migrating passerine birds, Funct. Ecol., 2001, 15, 584–594 Google Scholar

  • [48] Fridolfsson A.K, Ellegren, H., A simple and universal method for molecular sexing of non-ratite birds, J. of Avian Biol., 1999, 30, 116–121 Google Scholar

  • [49] Green, M., Piersma, T., It pays to be choosy: waders migrating from Europe to Siberia fly on days with favourable winds and decrease travel costs substantially. In: Green, M. (ed.), Flight Strategies in Migrating Birds: When and How to Fly Ph.D. thesis, Lund University, Lund, Sweden, 2003 Google Scholar

  • [50] Piersma, T., Jukema, J. Budgeting the flight of a long distance migrant:changes in nutrient reserve levels of bar-tailed godwits at successive spring staging sites, Ardea, 1990, 78, 315-337 Google Scholar

  • [51] Grönroos, J., Green, M., Alerstam, T., To fly or not to fly depends on winds: shorebird migration in different seasonal wind regimes, Anim. Behav., 2012, 83, 1449-1457 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [52] Skagen, S.K., Knopf, F.L. Residency patterns of migrating sandpipers at a mid-continental stopover, Condor, 1994, 96, 949-958 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [53] Åkesson, S., Hendenström, A., Wind selectivity of migratory flight departures in birds, Behav. Ecol. Sociobio., 2000, 47, 140-144 Google Scholar

  • [54] White, G.C., Burnham, K.P., Program MARK: survival estimation from populations of marked animals, Bird Study, 1999, 46, Supplement: 120-138 Google Scholar

  • [55] Burnham, K.P., Anderson, D.R., Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. 2nd Edition. Springer-Verlag, New York, 2002 Google Scholar

  • [56] Kaiser, A., Estimating turnover, movements, and capture parameters of resting passerines in standardized capture– recapture studies, J. of Appl. Stat., 1995, 22, 1039-1047 Google Scholar

  • [57] Cooch, E. G., White, G.C., Program MARK: a gentle introduction. 4th Ed., 2005, http://www.phidot.org/software/mark/ Google Scholar

  • [58] Hendenstrom, A., Adaptations to migration in birds: behavioural strategies, morphology and scaling effects, Proc. Biol. Sci., 363, 2008, 287-299 Google Scholar

  • [59] Weber, T.P., Ens, B.J., Houston, A.I., Optimal avian migration: A dynamic model of fuel stores and site use, Evol. Ecol., 1998, 12, 377-401 Google Scholar

  • [60] Clark C.W., Butler, R.W., Fitness components of avian migration: a dynamic model of western sandpiper migration, Evol. Ecol. Res., 1999, 1, 443–457 Google Scholar

  • [61] Covino, K.M., Holberton, R.L., Morris, S.R., Factors influencing migratory decisions made by songbirds on spring stopover. J. Avian Biol., 2014, 45, 001-008, Google Scholar

  • [62] Franks, S.E., Fernández, G., Hodkinson, D.J., Kyser, T.K., Lank, D.B., The long and the short of it: No dietary specialization between male and female Western Sandpipers despite strong bill size dimorphism, PLoS ONE 8, 2013, DOI: e79835. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079835 Google Scholar

  • [63] Evans Ogden, L.J., Hobson, K. A., Lank, D. B., Bittman, S., Stable isotope analysis reveals that agricultural habitat provides an important dietary component for nonbreeding Dunlin, Avian Con. Ecol., 2005, 1, http://www.aceeco.org/vol1/ iss1/art3/ Google Scholar

  • [64] Goss-Custard, J.D., Le V. Dit Durell, S.E.A., Age-related effects in Oystercatchers, Haematopus ostralegus, feeding on mussels, Mytilus edulis. I. Foraging efficiency and interference, J. Anim. Ecol., 1987, 56: 521-536 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [65] Hockey, P.A.R., Turpie, J.K., Velasquez, C.R., What selective pressures have driven the evolution of deferred northward migration by juvenile waders?, J. Avian Biol., 1998, 29, 325–330 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [66] Burger J., Niles, L., Porter, R., Dey, A.,Koch, S., Gordon, C., Migration and over-wintering of red knots (Calidris canutus rufa) along the Atlantic coast of the United States, Condor, 2012, 114, 302-313 Google Scholar

  • [67] FitzGerald, D.M., Fenster, M., Argow, B.A., Buynevich, I.V., Coastal Impacts Due to Sea-Level Rise. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 2008, 36, 601-647 Google Scholar

  • [68] Galbraith H., Jones, R., Park, R., Clough, J., Herrod-Julius, S., Harrington, B, Page, G. Global climate change and sea-level rise: potential losses of intertidal habitat for shorebirds. Waterbirds, 2002, 25, 173-183 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Received: 2015-07-06

Accepted: 2015-09-21

Published Online: 2015-10-19

Citation Information: Animal Migration, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2084-8838, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ami-2015-0003.

Export Citation

© 2015 Jessica Renee Henkel, Caz M. Taylor. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Supplementary Article Materials

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, Lawrence M. Houghton, Robert E. Settlage, Daniel H. Catlin, Sarah M. Karpanty, James D. Fraser, and Marc-André Villard
Journal of Applied Ecology, 2018
Stephen Brown, Cheri Gratto-Trevor, Ron Porter, Emily L. Weiser, David Mizrahi, Rebecca Bentzen, Megan Boldenow, Rob Clay, Scott Freeman, Marie-Andrée Giroux, Eunbi Kwon, David B. Lank, Nicolas Lecomte, Joe Liebezeit, Vanessa Loverti, Jennie Rausch, Brett K. Sandercock, Shiloh Schulte, Paul Smith, Audrey Taylor, Brad Winn, Stephen Yezerinac, and Richard B. Lanctot
The Condor, 2017, Volume 119, Number 2, Page 207

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in