Sympatrically breeding congeneric seabirds (Stercorarius spp.) from Arctic Canada migrate to four oceans

Authors: Autumn-Lynn Harrison, Paul F. Woodard, Mark L. Mallory, Jennie Rausch

Year: 2021

Publication: Ecology and Evoloution

Publication Link:

Keywords: Arctic, animal tracking, migration, nomadism, seabirds


Polar systems of avian migration remain unpredictable. For seabirds nesting in the
Nearctic, it is often difficult to predict which of the world’s oceans birds will migrate to
after breeding. Here, we report on three related seabird species that migrated across
four oceans following sympatric breeding at a central Canadian high Arctic nesting
location. Using telemetry, we tracked pomarine jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus, n = 1)
across the Arctic Ocean to the western Pacific Ocean; parasitic jaeger (S. parasiticus,
n = 4) to the western Atlantic Ocean, and long-tailed jaeger (S. longicaudus, n = 2) to
the eastern Atlantic Ocean and western Indian Ocean. We also report on extensive
nomadic movements over ocean during the postbreeding period (19,002 km) and over
land and ocean during the prebreeding period (5578 km) by pomarine jaeger, an irruptive
species whose full migrations and nomadic behavior have been a mystery. While
the small sample sizes in our study limit the ability to make generalizable inferences,
our results provide a key input to the knowledge of jaeger migrations. Understanding
the routes and migratory divides of birds nesting in the Arctic region has implications
for understanding both the glacial refugia of the past and the Anthropocene-driven
changes in the future.

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