Presentation Title

Linking Breeding and Wintering Populations of Migrating Vaux’s Swifts – A Multiple Stable Isotope Approach

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented Friday March 31, 2017

Abstract

The Vaux’s swift (Chaetura vauxi) is an aerial insectivore that is currently experiencing population declines in many parts of its range. These migratory songbirds move yearly between wintering areas in central/ southern Mexico and breeding areas in northwestern North America, including British Columbia. While we have a solid understanding of where most birds breed and overwinter, there is little known about the connections between wintering and breeding populations (i.e., migratory connectivity). This is a challenging task as these birds are small and difficult to track. In 2012 a mass mortality of Vaux’s Swifts took place on Vancouver Island resulting in over 1300 deaths. These deaths allowed for the determination of the migratory connectivity of these birds using stable isotope analysis. Isotopes are elements that are incorporated into tissues of animals and are specific to the region in which that tissue was grown (Hobson 2011). The isotopes of the bird’s claws (grown during winter) and feathers (grown on the breeding grounds) were analysed for three stable isotopes hydrogen (δ2H), carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) signatures to determine specific wintering and breeding locations. The birds roosting at the Vancouver Island site appear to originate from 2-3 different wintering locations (Reudink et al. 2015) and travel to 2-3 different breeding locations. Given the general decline of aerial insectivores determining the migratory connectivity of a species is important as it will better help to determine management practices and potentially stabilize the declining populations (Reudink et al. 2015).

Department

Environmental Science

Faculty Advisor

Matthew Reudink

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Linking Breeding and Wintering Populations of Migrating Vaux’s Swifts – A Multiple Stable Isotope Approach

The Vaux’s swift (Chaetura vauxi) is an aerial insectivore that is currently experiencing population declines in many parts of its range. These migratory songbirds move yearly between wintering areas in central/ southern Mexico and breeding areas in northwestern North America, including British Columbia. While we have a solid understanding of where most birds breed and overwinter, there is little known about the connections between wintering and breeding populations (i.e., migratory connectivity). This is a challenging task as these birds are small and difficult to track. In 2012 a mass mortality of Vaux’s Swifts took place on Vancouver Island resulting in over 1300 deaths. These deaths allowed for the determination of the migratory connectivity of these birds using stable isotope analysis. Isotopes are elements that are incorporated into tissues of animals and are specific to the region in which that tissue was grown (Hobson 2011). The isotopes of the bird’s claws (grown during winter) and feathers (grown on the breeding grounds) were analysed for three stable isotopes hydrogen (δ2H), carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) signatures to determine specific wintering and breeding locations. The birds roosting at the Vancouver Island site appear to originate from 2-3 different wintering locations (Reudink et al. 2015) and travel to 2-3 different breeding locations. Given the general decline of aerial insectivores determining the migratory connectivity of a species is important as it will better help to determine management practices and potentially stabilize the declining populations (Reudink et al. 2015).