, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 376-384

Small home ranges and high site fidelity in red knots (Calidris c. canutus) wintering on the Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania

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Using automated and manual radio-telemetry and resightings of individual colour-ringed birds, we assessed the daily use of space of red knots Calidris canutus canutus at a tropical wintering area along the Sahara coast, the Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania. Confirming earlier suggestions, we found that birds were very faithful to their roosts and that the daily foraging range was small; in the course of several winter months birds used an area of only 2–16 km2 of intertidal area. We found no differences between their movements in daylight and at night. Additionally, individuals seem to return to exactly the same locations in subsequent winters. This pattern is very different from red knots wintering in the temperate Wadden Sea. Here, they readily change roost sites and easily cover areas of about 800 km2 in the course of weeks but, just as in Mauritania, no differences between day and night are apparent. In northern Patagonia and north-western Australia, red knots have range sizes closer to those on the Banc d’Arguin, but here they do show differences in space use between day and night. Ecological explanations for these contrasting patterns require further comparative data based on in-depth studies on the predictability of the food base and the presence of diurnal and nocturnal predators.

Communicated by F. Bairlein