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Feather isotope analysis reveals differential patterns of habitat and resource use in populations of white-winged doves

January 1, 2015

The white-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica) serves an important ecological role as a diurnal pollinator of the saguaro cactus in the Sonoran desert and an economic role as a highly sought after game bird in North America. White-winged doves are intimately linked to anthropogenic changes on the landscape and because of this, have experienced dramatic population fluctuations over the last 75 years in response, both positively and negatively, to anthropogenic changes on the landscape. To understand the factors driving population growth and decline of migratory species like the white-winged dove, it is imperative we study resource use on both their breeding and wintering grounds. To understand how populations are distributed on the wintering grounds, we tested an alternative to band recovery approaches by using stable isotope analysis. Before we could use isotope analysis to link breeding and wintering locations for this species, we first needed to determine if hydrogen (δ2H) and carbon (δ13C) stable isotopes in feather tissue (δ2Hf and δ13Cf, respectively) could differentiate among populations of white-winged doves across their breeding range in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. δ2Hf and δ13Cf not only differentiated between populations of white-winged doves that breed in the United States, but δ2Hf also provided further differentiation in white-winged doves that breed in native Sonoran Desert and agricultural habitats in the western portion of their range. Ecological processes associated with desert resources and anthropogenic influences, specifically saguaro cacti and irrigated crops, largely determined δ2Hf in some white-winged doves in Arizona whereas δ2H of precipitation (δ2Hp) largely determined δ2Hfof doves in New Mexico and Texas. This study highlights the usefulness of stable isotope analysis to differentiate populations of animals across the landscape and the insight isotopes can provide into habitat and resource use. Published 2015. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Publication Year 2015
Title Feather isotope analysis reveals differential patterns of habitat and resource use in populations of white-winged doves
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.916
Authors Scott A. Carleton, Carlos Martinez Del Rio, Timothy J. Robinson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Management
Index ID 70173774
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle