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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Long-tailed jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus equipped with a geolocator to monitor its year-round movements and migration strategy between the Canadian Arctic and the southern Atlantic.

Photo: Yannick Seyer

Seyer Y, Gauthier G, Bêty J, Therrien JF, Lecomte N

Seasonal variations in migration strategy of a long-distance arctic-breeding seabird

Migratory behavior in seabirds can be affected by factors like breeding, molting, seasonality, and resource availability. Using geolocators, Seyer and co-workers revealed for the first time the complete, annual, long-distance migratory movements of long-tailed jaegers breeding in the Canadian Arctic. Jaegers traveled on average >32,000 km per year, wintering across a wide region of the southern Atlantic. Contrary to most other bird species, jaegers’ prebreeding migration was 40% longer and 32% slower than postbreeding migration. While jaegers used a postbreeding time-minimizing strategy to rapidly reach the wintering sites, most likely to molt, they adopted a fly-and-forage strategy during prebreeding migration, slowing it down and increasing foraging effort, probably to accumulate body reserves in anticipation of unfavorable conditions on arrival at breeding sites.


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