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Free Content Segregation in the African wintering ranges of English and Swiss Swallow Hirundo rustica populations: a stable isotope study: Capsule Stable isotope analysis of Swallow feathers, grown in Africa, revealed significant differences between populations breeding in Switzerland and England.

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Aims To investigate the extent to which Swallow populations breeding in Switzerland and England are separated on their African wintering grounds.

Methods Swallows were caught at breeding colonies, biometric measurements were taken and feathers, grown in Africa, were collected. Feathers were combusted in a Carlo Erba C/N/S analyser and the δ13C and δ15N signatures were measured using a mass spectrometer.

Results The δ13C signatures of Swiss birds were significantly more depleted than those of birds from England. The δ15N signatures did not differ between the two populations.

Conclusion Birds from Switzerland and England probably winter in geographically distinct parts of Africa. The Swiss birds probably feed on prey that are more reliant on C3 vegetation, from woodlands, than the prey of English birds, which are more reliant on C4 vegetation, from grasslands.
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Keywords: Hirundo rustica; Swallow; isotope study; wintering

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Farmland Bird Group, Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Zoology Department, Oxford University, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK 2: Life Sciences Community Stable Isotope Facility, SUERC, Scottish Enterprise Technology Park, East Kilbride, G75 0QF, Scotland, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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