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Staging ecology of Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) and Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) juveniles in the St. Lawrence River Estuary during fall migration

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The acquisition of body reserves by migrating shorebirds at specific staging sites is critical for reaching their breeding or wintering grounds. As many North American shorebird populations are declining, major staging sites need to be identified for effective conservation plans. Changes in body mass of Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus Bonaparte, 1825) and Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla (L., 1766)) juveniles, as well as length of stay and daily movements by Semipalmated Plover juveniles during fall migration, were studied in the St. Lawrence River Estuary in southern Quebec, Canada. Most juveniles of both species captured early in the migration period weighed less than the estimated mean fat-free mass. Body mass increased steadily in juveniles of both species during staging. Mean body masses of birds captured in our study area were similar to or higher than those of juveniles of both species captured along the North Atlantic coast. Length of stay of radio-tracked Semipalmated Plover juveniles ranged from 2 to 28 days. Body mass at capture and length of stay were negatively associated, suggesting that individuals refuelled before resuming their migration. Overall, these results provide evidence that the St. Lawrence River Estuary is an important staging site for Semipalmated Plover and Semipalmated Sandpiper juveniles.

Keywords: Calidris pusilla; Charadrius semipalmatus; Semipalmated Plover; Semipalmated Sandpiper; St. Lawrence River Estuary; body reserves; bécasseau semipalmé; daily movements; durée de séjour; déplacements journaliers; engraissement; estuaire du St-Laurent; fattening; length of stay; migration; oiseaux de rivage; pluvier semipalmé; réserves corporelles; shorebirds

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Département des sciences et techniques biologiques, Collège de La Pocatière, 140 4e Avenue, La Pocatière, QC G0R 1Z0, Canada. 2: Département de biologie et Centre d’études nordiques, Université du Québec à Rimouski, 300 Allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, QC G5L 3A1, Canada.

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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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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