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BRANTA — Gregor Scheiffarth

Born to fly – migratory strategies and stopover ecology in the European Wadden Sea of a long-distance migrant, the Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)

Institution: University of Oldenburg, Germany
Supervisors: Franz Bairlein, Karsten Reise
Details: PhD 2003 (Completed)
Address: Nationalparkverwaltung Niedersïchsisches Wattenmeer, Virchowstr. 1, 26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany (Mar 2013) Email
Subject Keywords: Limosa lapponica, Wadden Sea, foraging ecology, migration strategies, optimal migration, thermal ecology, ecosystem
Species Keywords: Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica

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Although large numbers of birds visit the Wadden Sea each year, consumption by birds amounts only to 8.7 g AFDM m-2 a-1 which equals 10-25 % of the secondary production. A main consumer is the Bar-tailed Godwit. In the Wadden Sea a European and an Afro-Siberian population of Bar-tailed Godwits stopover on their migration between wintering and breeding areas. Birds of the European population stayed during spring stopover for 30-40 days in the study area. Birds were extremely site faithful to their spring stopover site showing an annual mortality of 17-26 %. The use of the northern Wadden Sea as a wintering site is mainly determined by thermostatic costs, which are smaller for females than for males resulting in a female bias during winter. Deciding for northern wintering forms a trade off between energetically cheap wintering and behaviourally avoiding movement to unknown places. On spring migration, European birds follow an energy minimizing and Afro-Siberian birds a time minimizing strategy with much higher energy demands. Afro-Siberian birds could follow this strategy by investing as much time as possible in foraging and keeping to a strict, well timed schedule.


Published Papers

Scheiffarth, G. (1996): How expensive is wintering in the Wadden Sea? Thermostastic costs of Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica) in the northern part of the Wadden Sea. Verh. Dtsch. Zool. Ges. 89.1: 178.

Scheiffarth, G. (2001): The diet of Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica in the Wadden Sea: combining visual observations and faeces analysis. Ardea 89: 481-494.

Scheiffarth, G. (2001): Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica) in the Sylt-Rømø wadden Sea: which birds, when, from where and where to? Vogelwarte 41: 53-69.

Scheiffarth, G. (2003) The interaction between migration strategy and population dynamics: is there higher winter mortality in short-distance migrants and lower juvenile survival on long-distance migrants? Wader Study Group Bulletin 100, 157-158.

Scheiffarth, G. & F. Bairlein (1998): Wann frieren Pfuhlschnepfen? BIOforum 21/10: 572-574.

Scheiffarth, G. & F. Bairlein (1998): Spring migration strategies of two populations of Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica in the Wadden Sea. In: Adams, N. J. & R. H. Slotow (eds.): Proc. 22 Int. Ornithol. Congr., Durban. Ostrich 69: 365.

Scheiffarth, G., C. Ketzenberg & K.-M. Exo (1993): Utilization of the Wadden Sea by waders: differences in time budgets between two populations of Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lappopnica) on spring migration. Verh. Dtsch. Zool. Ges. 86.1: 287.

Scheiffarth, G. & G. Nehls (1997): Consumption of benthic macrofauna by carnivorous birds in the Wadden Sea. Helgolïnder Meeresunters. 51: 373-387.

Scheiffarth, G. S. Wahls, C. Ketzenberg & K.-M. Exo (2002): Spring migration strategies of two populations of Bar-tailed Godwits, Limosa lapponica, in the Wadden Sea: time minimizers or energy minimizers? Oikos 96: 346-354.

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