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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Ecol. Evol. | doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00426

Migration Patterns of Upland Sandpipers in the Western Hemisphere

  • 1Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE), United States
  • 2Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Norway

Integrated models of the ecology of migratory species requires tracking of individual migratory organisms throughout the annual cycle. Here, we report the first information on the movement patterns of nine Upland Sandpipers (Bartramia longicauda) that were captured at breeding sites in Kansas and Massachusetts, and tracked with GPS and PTT tags to nonbreeding sites in South America. Upland Sandpipers were extreme migrants that regularly made nonstop flights that were >5,000 km in length and lasted up to 7 days. Sandpipers traveled up to 20,000 km per year in their annual movements. Our project resulted in a series of new discoveries. Sandpipers regularly crossed major ecological barriers during migration, which included long oceanic flights, high elevation mountains, and tropical forests. Migrating birds used known stopover sites in the central flyway of North America and eastern slope of the Andes in South America, and a subset of birds wintered in core nonbreeding sites in the Pampas ecoregion of Uruguay and Argentina. We documented new staging sites at canefields in the mountain valleys of Colombia, grasslands in the Llanos of Venezuela, and at airports along the Atlantic Coast of the US. Unexpectedly, some sandpipers spent the nonbreeding season on river islands in the Amazon basin, and pastures in the Cerrado ecoregion of Brazil; areas not previously known to host overwintering Upland Sandpipers. Like many other migratory birds in the Western Hemisphere, Upland Sandpipers had elliptical migration routes within the Southern Hemisphere, moved among separate activity areas during the nonbreeding season, migrated faster during southbound than northbound migration, and spent more time at nonbreeding than breeding sites. Collectively, the birds used sites across much of northern South America as a broad front migrant. Overall, the migratory patterns of Upland Sandpipers were more similar to migratory landbirds than to shorebirds that typically stage at wetlands and coastal estuaries. Upland Sandpipers should be buffered against habitat loss and degradation at local sites within their migratory range, but it may be difficult to protect specific sites or broad landscapes that would be needed to conserve a high percentage of the global population.

Keywords: Bartramia longicauda, elliptical migration, long-distance migration, seasonal, space use, transoceanic flight, Full annual cycle

Received: 01 Aug 2019; Accepted: 21 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Hill, Sandercock and Renfrew. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jason M. Hill, Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE), White River Junction, 05001, Vermont, United States, jhill@vtecostudies.org