Arctic breeding shorebirds carry substantial body stores on their long-distance migrations from their non-breeding grounds. Upon arrival at the breeding area the remains of these stores can be used for egg formation, insurance against poor feeding conditions or rebuilding organs. We quantified body condition (body mass, total body water, lean body mass and fat mass estimated using the deuterium dilution method) in seven shorebird species caught upon arrival in the Siberian Arctic. Arrival condition was compared with incubation condition in a subset of species. After correction for structural size, body mass was significantly lower at arrival than during incubation in most of the species (but 3–18% above lean mass). Fat index (fat mass/lean mass) varied between 5.1 and 13.2%. Fat stores were estimated to enable survival for 0.6 days for the smallest and 2.5 days for the largest species. We discuss possible functions of arrival stores: insurance, egg-formation or rebuilding organs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolar Biology
Journal publication date2009

ID: 115855