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Site fidelity of migratory shorebirds facing habitat deterioration: insights from satellite tracking and mark-resighting
Chan, Y.-C; Chan, D.T.C.; Tibbitts, T.L; Hassell, C.J.; Piersma, T. (2023). Site fidelity of migratory shorebirds facing habitat deterioration: insights from satellite tracking and mark-resighting. Movement Ecology 11(1): 79.
In: Movement Ecology. BioMed Central: London. e-ISSN 2051-3933, meer
Peer reviewed article  

Beschikbaar in  Auteurs 

Author keywords
    Bird migration; Seasonality; Waders; Yellow Sea; East Asian–Australasian Flyway

Auteurs  Top 
  • Chan, Y.-C, meer
  • Chan, D.T.C.
  • Tibbitts, T.L
  • Hassell, C.J.
  • Piersma, T., meer



    Site fidelity, the tendency to return to a previously visited site, is commonly observed in migratory birds. This behaviour would be advantageous if birds returning to the same site, benefit from their previous knowledge about local resources. However, when habitat quality declines at a site over time, birds with lower site fidelity might benefit from a tendency to move to sites with better habitats. As a first step towards understanding the influence of site fidelity on how animals cope with habitat deterioration, here we describe site fidelity variation in two species of sympatric migratory shorebirds (Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica and Great Knots Calidris tenuirostris). Both species are being impacted by the rapid loss and deterioration of intertidal habitats in the Yellow Sea where they fuel up during their annual long-distance migrations.


    Using satellite tracking and mark-resighting data, we measured site fidelity in the non-breeding (austral summer) and migration periods, during which both species live and co-occur in Northwest Australia and the Yellow Sea, respectively.


    Site fidelity was generally high in both species, with the majority of individuals using only one site during the non-breeding season and revisiting the same sites during migration. Nevertheless, Great Knots did exhibit lower site fidelity than Bar-tailed Godwits in both Northwest Australia and the Yellow Sea across data types.


    Great Knots encountered substantial habitat deterioration just before and during our study period but show the same rate of decline in population size and individual survival as the less habitat-impacted Bar-tailed Godwits. This suggests that the lower site fidelity of Great Knots might have helped them to cope with the habitat changes. Future studies on movement patterns and their consequences under different environmental conditions by individuals with different degrees of site fidelity could help broaden our understanding of how species might react to, and recover from, local habitat deterioration.

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