Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 376–384 | Cite as

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

  • Jutta LeyrerEmail author
  • Bernard Spaans
  • Mohamed Camara
  • Theunis Piersma
Original Article


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.


Calidris canutus Home range Site fidelity Spacing behaviour Wintering 



We thank the co-participants of the 2003 expedition (Jan van Dijk, Piet van den Hout, Laurens van Kooten, Bob Loos, and Jeroen Reneerkens) for their valuable help in catching and radio-tracking the birds and the co-participants of the 2004 expedition (Pieter Honkoop, Harry Horn, Piet van den Hout, Jan van de Kam, Jan Lewis, Bob Loos, Jeroen Reimerink, Jeroen Reneerkens, and Jaap Strikwerda) for helping to relocate previously marked individuals. Authorities of the Parc National du Banc d’Arguin gave permission to work in Iwik. We also thank the collaborators of the Parc National du Banc d’Arguin, especially Sall Mamadou Alassane and Ba Amadou Galo and the other inhabitants of the Biological Station in Iwik for their cheerful contributions and co-operation. Antonio Araujo gave key support throughout the work in Mauritania. We also would like to thank Gregor Scheiffarth and an anonymous referee for valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Finally, many thanks to Dick Visser for preparing the graphs. The two expeditions were financially supported by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfondsprijs voor Natuurbehoud 2004 to TP.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jutta Leyrer
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Bernard Spaans
    • 1
  • Mohamed Camara
    • 3
  • Theunis Piersma
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Marine Ecology and EvolutionRoyal Netherlands Institute for Sea ResearchTexelThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Animal Ecology GroupUniversity of GroningenHarenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Parc National du Banc d’ArguinNouakchottMauritania

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