Patterns of differential migration in white-throated sparrows evaluated with isotopic measurements of feathers

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We used stable isotope techniques to investigate differential migration in the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis (J.F. Gmelin, 1789)), a short-distance migrant in North America, to clarify hypotheses about patterns and consequences of migration tactics. Sparrows staging in Manitoba, Canada, exhibited sex-biased differential timing of spring arrival and latitude of wintering origin. Specifically, females arrived later and originated from more southern latitudes. Furthermore, there was a negative relationship between wintering latitude and arrival dates of individuals, although this relationship was only present during the second spring of the study, since atypical cold temperatures were associated with a pulse of late-arriving sparrows during the first spring. The negative correlation between wintering latitude and arrival date was also present within males, suggesting that the distribution of males on wintering areas could have carry-over effects to reproduction. This study demonstrates potential links between events occurring on wintering and breeding grounds of migratory songbirds.

L’utilisation de techniques d’isotopes stables nous ont servi à étudier la migration différentielle chez le bruant à gorge blanche (Zonotrichia albicollis (J.F. Gmelin, 1789)), un migrateur sur de courtes distances en Amérique du Nord, afin de clarifier certaines hypothèses concernant les patrons de migration et les conséquences de diverses stratégies migratoires. Les bruants qui se rassemblent au Manitoba, Canada, ont un calendrier de migration printanière qui varie en fonction du sexe; les deux sexes diffèrent aussi en ce qui concerne la latitude à laquelle ils passent l’hiver. En fait, les femelles arrivent plus tard et proviennent de latitudes plus méridionales. De plus, il existe une relation négative entre la latitude d’hivernage et la date d’arrivée des individus; cependant, cette relation n’a été apparente qu’au second printemps de l’étude, puisqu’au premier printemps, des températures anormalement froides ont été associées à un maximum de bruants à arrivée tardive. La relation négative entre la latitude d’hivernage et la date d’arrivée existe aussi chez les mâles, ce qui laisse croire que la répartition des mâles sur les aires d’hivernage peut avoir des effets persistants sur la reproduction. Notre étude montre l’existence de liens potentiels entre les événements qui ont lieu sur les aires d’hivernage et de reproduction chez les passereaux chanteurs qui effectuent des migrations.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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