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Feather deuterium measurements reveal origins of migratory western loggerhead shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus excubitorides) wintering in Mexico

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Understanding the winter distributions of migrant birds is important because productivity and recruitment are influenced by conditions at several locations and periods in the life cycle of individuals. The western loggerhead shrike, Lanius ludovicianus excubitorides, is a threatened species in Canada, and its decline is attributed to potential limitations on the wintering grounds. We examined patterns of stable-hydrogen isotope (D) distributions in feathers of loggerhead shrikes, primarily of L. l. excubitorides, during winter at three regions in north and central Mexico, to establish relative abundance and origins of migrants. We also investigated potential movements of Mexican winter resident individuals. Using shrike museum specimens of known summer provenance, a shrike deuterium base map for Mexico was developed from isotopic measurement of feathers of resident shrikes and use of a recently established feather base map for raptors in North America. Stable hydrogen isotope analyses of inner secondary feather (s9) of all loggerhead shrikes examined in Mexico during winter indicated that north-central (Region A), north-eastern (Region B) and south-central (Region C) sites in Mexico consisted of 28.1%, 73.7% and 63.8% of migrant individuals from northern breeding grounds, respectively. Isotopic evidence suggested movements of a few local residents birds (7.9%) into the Chihuahuan desert from south-western USA and north-eastern Mexico to winter.
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Keywords: Deuterium; loggerhead shrikes; migratory connectivity; stable isotopes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, Canada SK, S7N 5E2,

Publication date: 2007-03-01

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