We report seasonal residency and local annual survival rates of migratory Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) at the Cabo Rojo salt flats, Puerto Rico. Residency rate (daily probability of remaining on the flats) was 0.991 ?? 0.001 (x?? ?? SE), yielding a mean length of stay of 110 days. This finding supports the inclusion of the Caribbean as part of the species' winter range. Average estimated percentage of fat was low but increased throughout the season, which suggests that birds replenish some spent fat reserves and strive for energetic maintenance. Local annual survival rate was 0.62 ?? 0.04, within the range of values reported for breeding populations at Manitoba and Alaska (0.53-0.76). The similarity was not unexpected because estimates were obtained annually but at opposite sites of their annual migratory movements. Birds captured at the salt flats appeared to be a mix of birds from various parts of the breeding range, judging from morphology (culmen's coefficient of variation = 9.1, n = 106). This suggested that origin (breeding area) of birds and their proportion in the data should be ascertained and accounted for in analyses to glean the full conservation implications of winter-based annual survival estimates. Those data are needed to unravel the possibility that individuals of distinct populations are affected by differential mortality factors across different migratory routes. Mean length of stay strongly suggested that habitat quality at the salt flats was high. Rainfall and tidal flow combine to increase food availability during fall. The salt flats dry up gradually toward late January, at the onset of the dry season. Semipalmated Sandpipers may move west to other Greater Antilles or south to sites such as coastal Surinam until the onset of spring migration. They are not an oversummering species at the salt flats. Conservation efforts in the Caribbean region require understanding the dynamics of this species throughout winter to protect essential habitat. ?? The American Ornithologists' Union, 2007.
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Local annual survival and seasonal residency rates of semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) in Puerto rico