University of Oulu

Wolf, N., Smeltz, T. S., Welker, J. M., Rogers, M. C., & Ely, C. (2020). Exploring Overlap of Feather Molting and Migration in Tundra Swans Using δ2H Analysis. Animal Migration, 7(1), 58–66.

Exploring overlap of feather molting and migration in tundra swans using δ²H analysis

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Author: Wolf, Nathan1; Smeltz, Scott1; Welker, Jeffrey M.2,3;
Organizations: 1Fisheries, Aquatic Science, and Technology (FAST) Laboratory, Alaska Pacific University, Ancho-rage, 99508, AK, USA
2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, 99508, AK, USA
3Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Finland and UArctic
4Environment and Natural Resources Institute, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, 99508, AK, USA Current Affiliation: NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Auke Bay Laboratories, Juneau, 99801, AK, USA
5U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, 99508, AK, USA
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: De Gruyter, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-06-29


Determining the processes that shape the relative timing of energetically-costly events in the annual cycle of migrating birds is important to our understanding of avian phenology and ecology. We paired satellite tracking and hydrogen stable isotope analysis (δ²H) to examine the relative timing of two such events — migration and feather molting — in tundra swans from four breeding areas in Alaska, USA. Our results show a trend of increasing intra-individual variability in breast feather δ²H values with increasing migration distance, suggesting the overlap of breast feather molting and migration. However, when individual samples were pooled by breeding area, the δ²H values of breast and head feathers showed no trend with migration distance, presumably resulting from high levels of inter-individual variability in δ²H values within each breeding area. We explore potential reasons for this variability, propose potential mechanisms influencing feather δ²H values of tundra swans, and recommend further research into methods for exploring the temporal configuration of events in the annual cycle of migrating birds.

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Series: Animal migration
ISSN: 2084-8838
ISSN-E: 2084-8838
ISSN-L: 2084-8838
Volume: 7
Issue: 1
Pages: 58 - 66
DOI: 10.1515/ami-2020-0102
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This research was supported in part by the USGS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The analysis was supported by a NSF MRI award (0953271) to JMW.
Copyright information: © 2020 Nathan Wolf et al., published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.