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South American sandpiper’s route may explain its decline

Cara J

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Scientists have been tracking the migration of the semipalmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) to trace the origins of its population in northeastern South American, which is decreasing dramatically. A new study following the bird confirms that sandpipers wintering on the northeast coast of South America probably hatched in the eastern Arctic. Understanding the risks they face on their migration route, researchers say, may help them understand why the birds are declining. “Birds declining in eastern South America are much more likely to be from the eastern Arctic,” said Stephen Brown, a TWS member and lead author on the paper published in The Condor. “But they also used the eastern coastline of the U.S., especially in northbound migration.” From 2011 to 2015, Brown and his collaborators across 18 organizations trekked across eight Arctic research sites, hunted for sandpiper nests and netted and banded the 250 birds they found with light-based geolocators. The biologists returned to the nests the following year to remove the tags and download the light data accumulated over the birds’ migration, which they then translated into daily location estimates. “That helps us focus on what risks are affecting which parts of the population,” said Brown, director of the Manomet [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/south-american-sandpipers-route-may-explain-its-decline/

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