Populations of most North American aerial insectivores have undergone steep population declines over the past 40 years but the relative importance of factors operating on breeding, wintering, or stopover sites remains unknown. We used archival light-level geolocators to track the phenology, movements and winter locations of barn swallows (Hirdundo rustica; n = 27) from populations across North America to determine their migratory connectivity. We identified an east-west continental migratory divide for barn swallows with birds from western regions (Washington State, USA (n = 8) and Saskatchewan, Canada (n = 5)) traveling shorter distances to wintering areas ranging from Oregon to northern Colombia than eastern populations (Ontario (n = 3) and New Brunswick (n = 10), Canada) which wintered in South America south of the Amazon basin. A single swallow from a stable population in Alabama shared a similar migration route to eastern barn swallows but wintered farther north in northeast Brazil indicating a potential leap frog pattern migratory among eastern birds. Six of 9 (67%) birds from the two eastern populations and Alabama underwent a loop migration west of fall migration routes including around the Gulf of Mexico travelling a mean of 2,224 km and 722 km longer on spring migration, respectively. Longer migration distances, including the requirement to cross the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico and subsequent shorter sedentary wintering periods, may exacerbate declines for populations breeding in northeastern North America.
Recent years have seen a growing consensus that events during one part of an animal's annual cycle can detrimentally affect its future fitness. Notably, migratory species have been shown to commonly display such carry-over effects, facing severe time constraints and physiological stresses that can influence events across seasons. However, to date, no study has examined a full annual cycle to determine when these carry-over effects arise and how long they persist within and across years. Understanding when carry-over effects are created and how they persist is critical to identifying those periods and geographic locations that constrain the annual cycle of a population and determining how selection is acting upon individuals throughout the entire year. Using three consecutive years of migration tracks and four consecutive years of breeding success data, we tested whether carry-over effects in the form of timing deviations during one migratory segment of the annual cycle represent fitness costs that persist or accumulate across the annual cycle for a long-distance migratory bird, the Hudsonian godwit, Limosa haemastica. We found that individual godwits could migrate progressively later than population mean over the course of an entire migration period, especially southbound migration, but that these deviations did not accumulate across the entire year and were not consistently detected among individuals across years. Furthermore, neither the accumulation of lateness during previous portions of the annual cycle nor arrival date at the breeding grounds resulted in individuals suffering reductions in their breeding success or survival. Given their extreme life history, such a lack of carry-over effects suggests that strong selection exists on godwits at each stage of the annual cycle and that carry-over effects may not be able to persist in such a system, but also emphasizes that high-quality stopover and wintering sites are critical to the maintenance of long-distance migratory populations.
Migratory divides are contact zones between breeding populations that use divergent migratory routes and have been described in a variety of species. These divides are of major importance to evolution, ecology and conservation but have been identified using limited band recovery data and/or indirect methods. Data from band recoveries and mitochondrial haplotypes suggested that inland and coastal Swainson's thrushes (Catharus ustulatus) form a migratory divide in western North America. We attached light-level geolocators to birds at the edges of this contact zone to provide, to our knowledge, the first direct test of a putative divide using data from individual birds over the entire annual cycle. Coastal thrushes migrated along the west coast to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Some of these birds used multiple wintering sites. Inland thrushes migrated across the Rocky Mountains, through central North America to Columbia and Venezuela. These birds migrated longer distances than coastal birds and performed a loop migration, navigating over the Gulf of Mexico in autumn and around this barrier in spring. These findings support the suggestion that divergent migratory behaviour could contribute to reproductive isolation between migrants, advance our understanding of their non-breeding ecology, and are integral to development of detailed conservation strategies for this group.
migration; geolocators; songbird; migratory divide
The northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) is a small (approx. 25 g), insectivorous migrant with one of the largest ranges of any songbird in the world, breeding from the eastern Canadian Arctic across Greenland, Eurasia and into Alaska (AK). However, there is no evidence that breeding populations in the New World have established overwintering sites in the Western Hemisphere. Using light-level geolocators, we demonstrate that individuals from these New World regions overwinter in northern sub-Sahara Africa, with Alaskan birds travelling approximately 14 500 km each way and an eastern Canadian Arctic bird crossing a wide stretch of the North Atlantic (approx. 3500 km). These remarkable journeys, particularly for a bird of this size, last between one to three months depending on breeding location and season (autumn/spring) and result in mean overall migration speeds of up to 290 km d−1. Stable-hydrogen isotope analysis of winter-grown feathers sampled from breeding birds generally support the notion that Alaskan birds overwinter primarily in eastern Africa and eastern Canadian Arctic birds overwinter mainly in western Africa. Our results provide the first evidence of a migratory songbird capable of linking African ecosystems of the Old World with Arctic regions of the New World.
Africa; geolocator; northern wheatear; stable-hydrogen isotopes
The identification of migration routes, wintering grounds and stopover sites are crucial issues for the understanding of the Palearctic-African bird migration system as well as for the development of relevant conservation strategies for trans-Saharan migrants. Using miniaturized light-level geolocators we report a comprehensive and detailed year round track of a granivorous trans-Saharan migrant, the European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur). From five recovered loggers, our data provide new insights on migratory journeys and winter destinations of Turtle Doves originating from a breeding population in Western France. Data confirm that Turtle Doves wintered in West Africa. The main wintering area encompassed Western Mali, the Inner Delta Niger and the Malian/Mauritanian border. Some individuals also extended their wintering ranges over North Guinea, North-West of Burkina Faso and the Ivory-Coast. Our results reveal that all individuals did not spend the winter period at a single location; some of them experienced a clear eastward shift of several hundred kilometres. We also found evidence for a loop migration pattern, with a post-breeding migration flyway lying west of the spring route. Finally, we found that on their way back to breeding grounds Turtle Doves needed to refuel after crossing the Sahara desert. Contrary to previous suggestions, our data reveal that birds used stopover sites for several weeks, presumably in Morocco and North Algeria. This later finding is a crucial issue for future conservation strategies because environmental conditions on these staging areas might play a pivotal role in population dynamics of this declining species.
Migratory land birds perform extreme endurance flights when crossing ecological barriers, such as deserts, oceans and ice-caps. When travelling over benign areas, birds are expected to migrate by shorter flight steps, since carrying the heavy fuel loads needed for long non-stop flights comes at considerable cost. Here, we show that great snipes Gallinago media made long and fast non-stop flights (4300–6800 km in 48–96 h), not only over deserts and seas but also over wide areas of suitable habitats, which represents a previously unknown migration strategy among land birds. Furthermore, the great snipes achieved very high ground speeds (15–27 m s−1), which was not an effect of strong tailwind support, and we know of no other animal that travels this rapidly over such a long distance. Our results demonstrate that some migratory birds are prepared to accept extreme costs of strenuous exercise and large fuel loads, even when stopover sites are available along the route and there is little tailwind assistance. A strategy of storing a lot of energy before departure, even if migration is over benign habitats, may be advantageous owing to differential conditions of fuel deposition, predation or infection risk along the migration route.
avian migration; endurance exercise; geolocators; stopover ecology; wind assistance
The tracking of small avian migrants has only recently become possible by the use of small light-level geolocators, allowing the reconstruction of whole migration routes, as well as timing and speed of migration and identification of wintering areas. Such information is crucial for evaluating theories about migration strategies and pinpointing critical areas for migrants of potential conservation value. Here we report data about migration in the common swift, a highly aerial and long-distance migrating species for which only limited information based on ringing recoveries about migration routes and wintering areas is available. Six individuals were successfully tracked throughout a complete migration cycle from Sweden to Africa and back. The autumn migration followed a similar route in all individuals, with an initial southward movement through Europe followed by a more southwest-bound course through Western Sahara to Sub-Saharan stopovers, before a south-eastward approach to the final wintering areas in the Congo basin. After approximately six months at wintering sites, which shifted in three of the individuals, spring migration commenced in late April towards a restricted stopover area in West Africa in all but one individual that migrated directly towards north from the wintering area. The first part of spring migration involved a crossing of the Gulf of Guinea in those individuals that visited West Africa. Spring migration was generally wind assisted within Africa, while through Europe variable or head winds were encountered. The average detour at about 50% could be explained by the existence of key feeding sites and wind patterns. The common swift adopts a mixed fly-and-forage strategy, facilitated by its favourable aerodynamic design allowing for efficient use of fuel. This strategy allowed swifts to reach average migration speeds well above 300 km/day in spring, which is higher than possible for similar sized passerines. This study demonstrates that new technology may drastically change our views about migration routes and strategies in small birds, as well as showing the unexpected use of very limited geographical areas during migration that may have important consequences for conservation strategies for migrants.
Each autumn billions of songbirds migrate between the temperate zone and tropics, but little is known about how events on the breeding grounds affect migration to the tropics. Here, we use light level geolocators to track the autumn migration of wood thrushes Hylocichla mustelina and test for the first time if late moult and poor physiological condition prior to migration delays arrival on the winter territory. Late nesting thrushes postponed feather moult, and birds with less advanced moult in August were significantly farther north on 10 October while en route to the tropics. Individuals in relatively poor energetic condition in August (high β-Hydroxybutyrate, low triglyceride, narrow feather growth bars) passed into the tropics significantly later in October. However, late moult and poor pre-migratory condition did not result in late arrival on the winter territory because stopover duration was highly variable late in migration. Although carry-over effects from the winter territory to spring migration may be strong in migratory songbirds, our study suggests that high reproductive effort late in the season does not impose time constraints that delay winter territory acquisition.
migration; geolocator; neotropical migrant; plasma metabolite; moult
Since 1899 ringing (or banding) remained the most important source of information about migration routes, stopover sites and wintering grounds for birds that are too small to carry satellite-based tracking systems. Despite the large quantity of migrating birds ringed in their breeding areas in Europe, the number of ring recoveries from sub-Saharan Africa is very low and therefore the whereabouts of most small bird species outside the breeding season remain a mystery. With new miniaturized light-level geolocators it is now possible to look beyond the limits of ring recovery data. Here we show for the first time year round tracks of a near passerine trans-Saharan migrant, the European Hoopoe (Upupa epops epops). Three birds wintered in the Sahel zone of Western Africa where they remained stationary for most of the time. One bird chose a south-easterly route following the Italian peninsula. Birds from the same breeding population used different migration routes and wintering sites, suggesting a low level of migratory connectivity between breeding and wintering areas. Our tracking of a near passerine bird, the European Hoopoe, with light-level geolocators opens a new chapter in the research of Palaearctic-African bird migration as this new tool revolutionizes our ability to discover migration routes, stopover sites and wintering grounds of small birds.
Objectives: The objective of this study is to introduce modifications in paraspinous muscle flap surgery and compare this new variation's ability to salvage infected hardware with the classic technique. Infected posterior spine wounds are a difficult problem for reconstructive surgeons. As per experience, hardware retention in infected wounds maintains spinal stability, decreases length of stay, and decreases the wound healing complication rate. Methods: An 11-year retrospective office and hospital chart review was conducted between July 1996 and August 2007. All patients who underwent paraspinous muscle flap reconstruction for postspine surgery wound infections during this time period were included. There were 51 patients in the study representing the largest reported series, to date, for this procedure. Twenty-two patients underwent treatment using the modified technique and 29 patients were treated using the classic technique. Results: There was no statistical difference between the 2 groups in demographics, medical history, or reason for initial spine surgery. The hardware salvage rate associated with the modified technique was greater than the rate associated with the classic technique (95.4% vs 75.8%; P = .03). There were fewer postreconstruction wound healing complications requiring hospital readmission in the modified technique group than the classic group (13.6% vs 44.8%; P = .04). Patients in the modified technique group demonstrated a shorter mean length of stay than the patients in the classic group (23.7 days vs 29.7; P = .25). Conclusions: The modified paraspinous muscle flap technique is an excellent option for spinal wound reconstruction, preservation of spinal hardware, and local infection control.
Rapid carbohydrate antigen tests are frequently used to diagnose group A streptococcal (GAS) pharyngitis. Despite evidence of modest sensitivity in medical settings, rapid antigen tests are available to the public for self-testing. We sought to determine if the personnel performing a rapid streptococcal antigen test influence the test's performance characteristics. Throat swabs of pediatric patients performed for GAS pharyngitis in a tertiary-care children's hospital network were included during two study periods in 2004 and 2005. The performance characteristics of a rapid carbohydrate antigen test were evaluated in three clinical settings against a nucleic acid probe test method according to the personnel performing the test (laboratory technologist versus nonlaboratory personnel). Between the study periods, nonlaboratory personnel from one site underwent retraining. Subsequently, the performance characteristics of the rapid antigen test were reassessed. The sensitivity of the rapid antigen test varied widely among the different testing sites (56 to 90%). Notably, test sensitivity was consistently greater when the test was performed by laboratory technologists than when it was performed by nonlaboratory personnel (P < 0.0001). Although the rapid antigen test sensitivity significantly improved after nonlaboratory personnel at one testing site were retrained (sensitivity before versus after retraining; P < 0.0001), the sensitivity remained greater in the laboratory technologist cohort (P < 0.0001). These data confirm the important relationship of the operator performing a rapid streptococcal antigen test with the test's accuracy, even in a clinical setting, where operator training is mandated. Therefore, its use outside the medical setting by lay persons cannot be recommended without culture backup.
Carbohydrate antigen detection, nucleic acid probe detection, and bacterial culture are commonly used to confirm group A streptococcus (GAS) pharyngitis. Compared to standard throat swab specimens, the sensitivities of these tests with mouth specimens are poor. When testing for GAS pharyngitis, the throat remains the optimum site for sampling.