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The basal metabolic rate (BMR) of Old World long-distance-migrant shorebirds has been found to vary along their migration route. On average, BMR is highest in the Arctic at the start of fall migration, intermediate at temperate latitudes, and lowest on the tropical wintering grounds. As a test of the generality of this pattern, we measured the BMR of one adult and 44 juvenile shorebirds of 10 species (1–18 individuals of each species, body-mass range 19–94 g) during the first part of their southward migration in the Canadian Arctic (68–76°N). The interspecific relationship between BMR and body mass was almost identical to that found for juvenile shorebirds in the Eurasian Arctic (5 species), although only one species appeared in both data sets. We conclude that high BMR of shorebirds in the Arctic is a circumpolar phenomenon. The most likely explanation is that the high BMR reflects physiological adaptations to low ambient temperatures. Whether the BMR of New World shorebirds drops during southward migration remains to be investigated
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-427
JournalThe Condor
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003

ID: 119212