Connectivity of discrete habitat patches may be described in terms of the movements of individual organisms among such patches. To examine connectivity of widely dispersed alkali lake systems, we recorded post-breeding and subsequent breeding locations of color-banded American Avocets (Recurvirostra americana) in the western U.S. Great Basin, from 1995-1997. Among individuals observed during the post-breeding/premigratory season, over half of the 188 breeding adults were observed at lakes other than their breeding locations, whereas 70% of 125 post-fledged young were observed only at their natal lake systems. Of 46 breeding adults observed in consecutive years, only eight (17%) dispersed between different lake systems. Only 8% of chicks were observed after their first year, and only 1.3% returned to the natal area in subsequent breeding seasons. Adult and recently fledged birds from the southernmost breeding site were regularly observed in post-breeding aggregations at lakes several hundred kilometers to the north, suggesting seasonal differences in habitat quality at the lake systems studied. These results indicate the importance of maintaining habitat for post-breeding movements.
Additional publication details
Within- and between-year dispersal of American Avocets among multiple western Great Basin wetlands