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Origins of Wilson’s Warblers migrating through southwest Canada: Adding value to banding data by using stable isotopes and genetic markers

Kardynal, Kevin J., Collister, Douglas M., Hobson, Keith A.
Animal Migration 2018 v.5 no.1 pp. 17-28
Cardellina pusilla, DNA fingerprinting, autumn, birds, climate, deuterium, genetic markers, land use, migratory behavior, molting, population dynamics, stable isotopes, stopover sites, watersheds, Alberta
Stopovers used by birds during migration concentrate individuals from broad geographic areas potentially providing important information on catchment areas of birds moving through these sites. We combined stable isotope (δ²H), genetic fingerprinting and band recovery data to delineate the molt origins of Wilson’s Warblers (Cardellina pusilla) migrating through a stopover site in southwestern Canada in the fall. We assessed changes in δ²Hf indicating latitudinal origins with ordinal date to show this species likely underwent leapfrog migration through this site. Using the combined approach to determine origins, Wilson’s Warblers migrating through southwestern Alberta in 2015 were mostly from the western boreal population (n = 155, 96%) with some individuals from the Pacific Northwest (n = 1, 0.6%), Rocky Mountain (n = 2, 1.2%) and eastern boreal (n = 3, 1.8%) populations. Our results suggest that individuals migrating through our study site come from a broad catchment area potentially from a large part of northwestern North America. Future studies should link population changes at banding stations with other information to determine associations with large-scale landscape-level drivers (e.g. climate, land use).