Movement ecology and habitat use differences in Black Scoters wintering along the Atlantic coast

Avian Conservation and Ecology
By: , and 



For migratory species such as Black Scoters (Melanitta americana) whose range encompasses a variety of habitats, it is especially important to obtain habitat use information across the species’ range to better understand anthropogenic threats, e.g., marine development and climate change. The objective of our study was to investigate the winter movement patterns and habitat use of Black Scoters in the Atlantic Ocean by quantifying the following key movement indices: number of wintering sites, arrival and departure dates to and from the wintering grounds, days at a wintering site, area of a wintering site, distance between wintering sites, and differences in habitat features of wintering sites. We also tested if winter movement patterns varied by sex or along a latitudinal gradient. To quantify winter movement patterns of Black Scoters, we used satellite telemetry data from 2009 to 2012 (n = 29 tagged females and 15 males for a total of 66 winter seasons, 38 female winter seasons, 28 male winter seasons). Our results indicated that the average wintering site area and distance between wintering sites varied with latitude. Wintering sites located at southern latitudes were larger and further apart than wintering sites located at more northern latitudes. Additionally, wintering sites varied in bathymetry, distance to shore, and the slope of the ocean floor at different latitudes; northern wintering sites were in deeper waters, closer to shore, and on steeper slopes than southern wintering sites. Our results suggest that habitat use may differ by latitude, indicating that habitats used in northern locations may not be representative of habitats used in more southern wintering areas. Understanding variation of habitat use along a latitudinal gradient will enable managers to focus sampling effort for Black Scoter abundance and distribution along the Atlantic coast and provide insight on the wintering ecology and movement of Black Scoters.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Movement ecology and habitat use differences in Black Scoters wintering along the Atlantic coast
Series title Avian Conservation and Ecology
DOI 10.5751/ACE-01654-150206
Volume 15
Issue 2
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher The Resilience Alliance
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 6
Country United States
State Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia
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