Ardea
Official journal of the Netherlands Ornithologists' Union

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Hooijmeijer J.C.E.W., Senner N.R., Tibbitts T.L., Gill, Jr R.L., Douglas D.C., Bruinzeel L.W., Wymenga E. & Piersma T. (2013) Post-breeding migration of Dutch-breeding Black-tailed Godwits: timing, routes, use of stopovers, and nonbreeding destinations. ARDEA 101 (2): 141-152
Conservation of long-distance migratory shorebirds is complex because these species use habitats spread across continents and hemispheres, making identification of critical habitats and potential bottlenecks in the annual cycle especially difficult. The population of Black-tailed Godwits that breeds in Western Europe, Limosa limosa limosa, has declined precipitously over the past few decades. Despite significant efforts to identify the root causes of this decline, much remains unclear. To better understand the migratory timing, use of stopover and nonbreeding sites, and the potential impact of breeding success on these parameters, we attached 15 Argos satellite transmitters and 10 geolocation tracking devices to adult godwits nearing completion of incubation at breeding sites in southwest Friesland, The Netherlands during the spring of 2009. We successfully tracked 16 adult godwits for their entire southward migration and two others for part of it. Three migration patterns and four regions of use were apparent. Most godwits left their breeding sites and proceeded south directly to stopover sites in the Mediterranean e.g. Spain, Portugal, and Morocco before flying on to non-breeding sites in West Africa. Other individuals spent the entire nonbreeding season in the Mediterranean. A third pattern included a few individuals that flew nonstop from their Dutch breeding sites to nonbreeding sites in West Africa. Tracking data from this study will be immediately useful for conservation efforts focused on preserving the dispersed network of sites used by godwits during their southward migration.


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