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Ducks’ chemical signatures point to importance of Canadian delta

Cara J

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Most people don’t know much about central Canada’s Saskatchewan River Delta, but new research analyzing chemical ratios in duck feathers highlights how this massive wetland between Saskatchewan and Manitoba serves as a critical stopover for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl migrating from northern Canada as they make their way to winter habitat in the United States. “We view the delta as a funnel,” said Tim Jardine, co-author on the paper recently published in The Condor. “These birds are being pulled in from a large geographic range in northern Canada, funneling their way through and using this delta as an important feeding area before they head to the southern U.S.” In 2013 and 2014, Jardine, an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability, graduate student Christian Asante and fellow researchers examined the ratio of stable hydrogen isotopes in feathers from five species of ducks harvested on the delta. They focused on mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), American wigeons (Anas americana), pintails (Anas acuta), blue-winged teal (Anas discors) and green-winged teal (Anas crecca). These waterfowl were selected because of their importance to the culture and livelihood of the residents of the nearby community of Cumberland House, who provided specimens [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/ducks-chemical-signatures-point-to-importance-of-canadian-delta/

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