For migrants, we often lack complete information of their spatial distribution year round. Here, we used stable carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen isotope ratios extracted from feathers grown at the wintering sites of the long-distance migratory collared flycatcher Ficedula albicollis, to study how individuals from different breeding populations are distributed at the wintering sites. A sub-sample of birds was also sampled in two consecutive years to test for the repeatability of isotope ratios. Birds from the same breeding populations had more similar isotope ratios compared to birds from other nearby populations (10–100 km apart). Furthermore, isotope repeatability within individuals was high, implying that the observed pattern of isotope variation is consistent between years. We put forward two hypotheses for these patterns; 1) strong wintering site philopatry and migratory connectivity, suggesting that migratory connectivity may potentially be found on a much smaller spatial scale than previously considered, and 2) consistent interpopulation differentiation of feeding ecology at their wintering site.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Journal publication date2009

ID: 135369