“The further birds migrate north for the summer, the faster they put on weight”, says Dr Williams (Simon Fraser University, Canada) who has been tracking migrating birds for several years. “This research may have implications for the designation of protected areas which will ensure birds can complete their spring and autumn migrations.” Dr Williams will present his research on Tuesday 4th April at the Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Main Meeting in Canterbury [session A4].
“Our data can be used to assess habitat quality and the importance of specific sites for migratory birds, and this can contribute to decisions about whether migratory sites are protected and which sites are prioritised for protection”, explains Williams.
Two techniques were used to study Western Sandpipers on their spring journey along the Pacific ‘Flyway’ from Mexico to Alaska: 80 birds were fitted with radio-telemetry tracking devices and a further 400 had blood samples taken to give measurements of fattening rate. Williams found that birds fatten more rapidly as they move further north – as they get closer to the breeding grounds - and that the longer the birds spend hanging around at San Francisco Bay (one of the more southerly refuelling sites), the lower their fattening rates.
Lucy Moore | alfa
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