Winter locations of red-throated divers from geolocation and feather isotope signatures

Duckworth, James, O'Brien, Susan, Petersen, Ib K, Petersen, Aevar, Benediktsson, Gudmundur, Johnson, Logan, Lehikoinen, Petteri, Okill, David, Vaisanen, Roni, Williams, Jim
et al (show 3 more authors) (2022) Winter locations of red-throated divers from geolocation and feather isotope signatures. ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 12 (8). e9209-.

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Migratory species have geographically separate distributions during their annual cycle, and these areas can vary between populations and individuals. This can lead to differential stress levels being experienced across a species range. Gathering information on the areas used during the annual cycle of red-throated divers (RTDs; <i>Gavia stellata</i>) has become an increasingly pressing issue, as they are a species of concern when considering the effects of disturbance from offshore wind farms and the associated ship traffic. Here, we use light-based geolocator tags, deployed during the summer breeding season, to determine the non-breeding winter location of RTDs from breeding locations in Scotland, Finland, and Iceland. We also use δ<sup>15</sup>N and δ<sup>13</sup>C isotope signatures, from feather samples, to link population-level differences in areas used in the molt period to population-level differences in isotope signatures. We found from geolocator data that RTDs from the three different breeding locations did not overlap in their winter distributions. Differences in isotope signatures suggested this spatial separation was also evident in the molting period, when geolocation data were unavailable. We also found that of the three populations, RTDs breeding in Iceland moved the shortest distance from their breeding grounds to their wintering grounds. In contrast, RTDs breeding in Finland moved the furthest, with a westward migration from the Baltic into the southern North Sea. Overall, these results suggest that RTDs breeding in Finland are likely to encounter anthropogenic activity during the winter period, where they currently overlap with areas of future planned developments. Icelandic and Scottish birds are less likely to be affected, due to less ship activity and few or no offshore wind farms in their wintering distributions. We also demonstrate that separating the three populations isotopically is possible and suggest further work to allocate breeding individuals to wintering areas based solely on feather samples.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gavia, GLS, isotope, loon, movement
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2022 15:18
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 20:45
DOI: 10.1002/ece3.9209
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