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Theunis Piersma

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Conservation of long-distance migratory shorebirds is complex because these species use habitats spread across continents and hemispheres, making identification of critical habitats and potential bottlenecks in the annual cycle especially difficult. The population of Black-tailed Godwits that breeds in Western Europe, Limosa limosa limosa, has declined precipitously over the past few decades. Despite significant efforts to identify the root causes of this decline, much remains unclear. To better understand the migratory timing, use of stopover and nonbreeding sites, and the potential impact of breeding success on these parameters, we attached 15 Argos satellite transmitters and 10 geolocation tracking devices to...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ardea
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Rock Sandpipers Calidris ptilocnemis have the most northerly non-breeding distribution of any shorebird in the Pacific Basin (upper Cook Inlet, Alaska; 61°N, 151°W). In terms of freezing temperatures, persistent winds and pervasive ice, this site is the harshest used by shorebirds during winter. We integrated physiological, metabolic, behavioural and environmental aspects of the non-breeding ecology of Rock Sandpipers at the northern extent of their range to determine the relative importance of these factors in facilitating their unique non-breeding ecology. Not surprisingly, estimated daily energetic demands were greatest during January, the coldest period of winter. These estimates were greatest for foraging birds,...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ibis
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Mountain ranges, deserts, ice fields and oceans generally act as barriers to the movement of land-dependent animals, often profoundly shaping migration routes. We used satellite telemetry to track the southward flights of bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica baueri), shorebirds whose breeding and non-breeding areas are separated by the vast central Pacific Ocean. Seven females with surgically implanted transmitters flew non-stop 8117-11680km (10153??1043 s.d.) directly across the Pacific Ocean; two males with external transmitters flew non-stop along the same corridor for 7008-7390km. Flight duration ranged from 6.0 to 9.4 days (7.8??1.3 s.d.) for birds with implants and 5.0 to 6.6 days for birds with externally...
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Migrating birds make the longest non-stop endurance flights in the animal kingdom. Satellite technology is now providing direct evidence on the lengths and durations of these flights and associated staging episodes for individual birds. Using this technology, we compared the migration performance of two subspecies of bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica travelling between non-breeding grounds in New Zealand (subspecies baueri) and northwest Australia (subspecies menzbieri) and breeding grounds in Alaska and eastern Russia, respectively. Individuals of both subspecies made long, usually non-stop, flights from non-breeding grounds to coastal staging grounds in the Yellow Sea region of East Asia (average 10 060 ± SD...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Journal of Avian Biology
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Shorebirds at northern latitudes during the nonbreeding season typically carry relatively large lipid stores and exhibit an up-regulation of lean tissues associated with digestion and thermogenesis. Intraspecific variation in these tissues across sites primarily reflects differences in environmental conditions. Rock (Calidris ptilocnemis (Coues, 1873)) and Purple (Calidris maritima (Brünnich, 1764)) sandpipers are closely related species having the most northerly nonbreeding distributions among shorebirds, living at latitudes up to 61°N in Cook Inlet, Alaska, and up to 71°N in northern Norway, respectively. Cook Inlet is the coldest known site used by nonbreeding shorebirds, and the region’s mudflats annually experience...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Canadian Journal of Zoology
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