Origins of irruptive migrations by common crossbills Loxia curvirostra into northwestern Europe revealed by stable isotope analysis

Marquiss, Mick; Newton, Ian; Hobson, Keith A.; Kolbeinsson, Yann. 2012 Origins of irruptive migrations by common crossbills Loxia curvirostra into northwestern Europe revealed by stable isotope analysis. Ibis, 154 (2). 400-409.

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We used analyses of stable hydrogen isotope (d2H) measurements in Common Crossbill feathers (d2Hf) to infer the region of origin of Crossbills collected from different irruptions into Britain, Iceland and the Faeroes, comparing these values with those from birds sampled in breeding areas in Britain and elsewhere in the western Palaearctic. No differences in d2Hf values were found between different species or sexes of Crossbills that could be presumed to have grown their feathers in the same region, but juveniles had lower d2Hf values than adults that had grown their feathers in the same region. On the basis mainly of museum skins, immigrant birds were sampled from 30 different irruption years, spanning the period 1866–2009, with annual samples varying from one to 29 individuals. The variation in d2Hf values within irruptions was substantially less than the variation between irruptions, indicating that irruptions in different years originated in different parts of the western Palaearctic boreal zone. Birds with lower d2Hf values tended to arrive later in the migration season, which was consistent with the idea that they had travelled further. In 17 of the irruption years, the birds had mean d2Hf values more than )120&, suggesting that they had originated somewhere in the region extending from northern Scandinavia to northwestern Russia. In these years the birds arrived early, in June and July. In 10 of the irruption years, the mean d2Hf values were between )120 and )130&, suggesting origins further east, in northern Russia, east of Archangel (about 40�E). In only three of the 30 years (1898, 2002, 2009) the mean d2Hf values were even lower (< 130&), and these birds arrived in late July, August and September. Birds in these three irruptions had probably come from Siberia, east of the Ural Mountains. In at least three irruption years (1898, 1927, 1985) the observed range of d2Hf values suggested that birds had come from more than one of these regions, including east of the Urals in 1898 and 1927.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 0019-1019
Additional Keywords: common crossbill, deuterium, irruption, isotope, Loxia, migration, parrot crossbill, Scottish crossbill, two-barred crossbill
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 21 Jan 2013 11:34 +0 (UTC)

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