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Overwintering strategies of migratory birds: a novel approach for estimating seasonal movement patterns of residents and transients

August 1, 2016
  1. Our understanding of movement patterns in wildlife populations has played an important role in current ecological knowledge and can inform landscape conservation decisions. Direct measures of movement can be obtained using marked individuals, but this requires tracking individuals across a landscape or multiple sites.
  2. We demonstrate how movements can be estimated indirectly using single-site, capture–mark–recapture (CMR) data with a multi-state open robust design with state uncertainty model (MSORD-SU). We treat residence and transience as two phenotypic states of overwintering migrants and use time- and state-dependent probabilities of site entry and persistence as indirect measures of movement. We applied the MSORD-SU to data on eight species of overwintering Neotropical birds collected in 14 countries between 2002 and 2011. In addition to entry and persistence probabilities, we estimated the proportions of residents at a study site and mean residence times.
  3. We identified overwintering movement patterns and residence times that contrasted with prior categorizations of territoriality. Most species showed an evidence of residents entering sites at multiple time intervals, with transients tending to enter between peak resident movement times. Persistence and the proportion of residents varied by latitude, but were not always positively correlated for a given species.
  4. Synthesis and applications. Our results suggest that migratory songbirds commonly move among habitats during the overwintering period. Substantial proportions of populations appear to be comprised of transient individuals, and residents tend to persist at specific sites for relatively short periods of time. This information on persistence and movement patterns should be explored for specific habitats to guide landscape management on the wintering grounds, such as determining which habitats are conserved or restored as part of certification programmes of tropical agroforestry crops. We suggest that research and conservation efforts on Neotropical migrant songbirds focus on identifying landscape configurations and regional habitat networks that support these diverse overwintering strategies to secure full life cycle conservation.
Publication Year 2016
Title Overwintering strategies of migratory birds: a novel approach for estimating seasonal movement patterns of residents and transients
DOI 10.1111/1365-2664.12655
Authors Viviana Ruiz-Gutierrez, William L. Kendall, James F. Saracco, Gary C. White
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Applied Ecology
Index ID 70192663
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle