Relatively little is known about shorebird movements across the coast of northern Alaska, yet postbreeding shorebirds use this coastline extensively prior to fall migration. We deployed 346 radio transmitters on 153 breeding and 193 postbreeding shorebirds of five species from 2005 to 2007.We examined two hypotheses regarding postbreeding shorebirds' movements: (1) whether such movements reflect ultimate routes of southbound migration and (2) whether migration strategy (length of flights) or timing of molt in relation to migration (molt occurring in breeding or winter range) are more influential in determining postbreeding shorebirds' behavior. Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) moved east, consistent with the direction of their ultimate migration, but patterns of other species' movements did not reflect ultimate migration direction. Timing of postnuptial molt appeared to have more influence over residence time and movements than did migration strategy. Postcapture residence time for the Semipalmated Sandpiper was less than for the Western Sandpiper (C. mauri) and significantly less than for Dunlin (C. alpina), and the Semipalmated Sandpiper's movements between were quicker and more frequent than those of the Dunlin. We expected to see the opposite patterns if migration strategy were more influential. Our data shed light on how different shorebird species use the northern Alaska coast after breeding: most species are likely to be stopping over at postbreeding areas, whereas the Dunlin and some Western Sandpipers may be staging. We suggest the coast of northern Alaska be viewed as an interconnected network of postbreeding sites that serve multiple populations of breeding shorebirds. ?? The Cooper Ornithological Society 2011.
Additional Publication Details
Residence time and movements of postbreeding shorebirds on the northern coast of Alaska