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Fat Dynamics of Arctic-nesting Sandpipers during Spring in Mid-continental North America

Gary L. Krapu, Jan L. Eldridge, Cheri L. Gratto-Trevor, and Deborah A. Buhl


Abstract: We measured fresh body mass, total body fat, and fat-free dry mass (FFDM) of three species of Arctic-nesting calidrid sandpipers (Baird's Sandpiper [Calidris bairdii], hereafter "BASA"; Semipalmated Sandpiper [C. pusilla], hereafter "SESA"; and White-rumped Sandpiper [C. fuscicollis], hereafter "WRSA") during spring stopovers in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of North Dakota, and evaluated the contribution of stored fat to (1) energy requirements for migration to their Arcticbreeding grounds and (2) nutrient needs for reproduction. All spring migrant WRSA (n = 124) and BASA (n = 111), and all but 2 of 99 SESA we collected were ≥2 years old. Male and female BASA migrated through North Dakota concurrently, male SESA averaged earlier than females, and WRSA males preceded females. Fat indices (ratio of fat to FFDM) of male and female SESA and WRSA averaged approximately twice those of male and female BASA. Total body fat of male and female BASA increased with date in spring 1980, but not in 1981; slopes were similar for both sexes each year. Male and female SESA arrived lean in 1980 and 1981, and total body fat increased with date in both years, with similar slopes for all combinations of sex and year. Male and female WRSA arrived lean in 1980–1981 and 1981, respectively, and total body fat increased with date, whereas females arrived with fat reserves already acquired in 1980. Interspecific and sex differences in migration schedules probably contributed to variation in fat storage patterns by affecting maintenance energy costs and food availability. Estimated flight ranges of BASA suggest that few could have met their energy needs for migration to the breeding grounds exclusively from fat stored by the time of departure from North Dakota. Estimated flight ranges of SESA and WRSA, along with fresh body masses of both species when live-trapped on or near their breeding grounds in northern Canada, suggest that major parts of both populations stored adequate fat by departure from temperate mid-continental North America to meet their energy requirements for migration and part of their nutrient needs for reproduction.

Key words: Arctic breeding grounds, Baird's Sandpiper, Calidris bairdii, C. fuscicollis, C. pusilla, Canada, fat storage, flight ranges, North Dakota, Prairie Pothole Region, Semipalmated Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper.

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This resource is based on the following resource (Northern Prairie Publication 1491):

Krapu, Gary L., Jan L. Eldridge, Cheri L. Gratto-Trevor, and Deborah A. Buhl.  2006.  Fat dynamics of arctic-nesting sandpipers during spring in mid-continent North America.  Auk 123(2):323-334.

This resource should be cited as:

Krapu, Gary L., Jan L. Eldridge, Cheri L. Gratto-Trevor, and Deborah A. Buhl.  2006.  Fat dynamics of arctic-nesting sandpipers during spring in mid-continent North America.  Auk 123(2):323-334.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/spfatdyn/index.htm  (Version 24AUG2006).


Gary L. Krapu* and Deborah A. Buhl, U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Jamestown, North Dakota 58401, USA.  *E-mail: gary_krapu@usgs.gov.
Jan L. Eldridge, U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Jamestown, North Dakota 58401, USA.  Present address: 246 Cove Lane, Hudson, Wisconsin 54016, USA.
Cheri L. Gratto-Trevor, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Prairie and Northern Wildlife Research Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N OX4, Canada

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