Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 141–150 | Cite as

Birds of a feather winter together: migratory connectivity in the Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus

  • Petr ProcházkaEmail author
  • Keith A. Hobson
  • Zsolt Karcza
  • Jelena Kralj
Original Article


To investigate migratory connectivity in the Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus, we analysed (1) all available sub-Saharan ringing recoveries and (2) stable isotopes in feathers grown in Africa sampled at 17 European breeding sites across a migratory divide. A cluster analysis of ringing recoveries showed remarkable connectivity between breeding and non-breeding grounds. Two main clusters represented populations taking the two main migratory routes [southwesterly (SW) and southeasterly (SE)]. Stable isotope analysis confirmed the separation of wintering areas of SW- and SE-migrating populations. Higher δ15N values in feathers of SE-migrating birds indicated that they occupied more xeric biome types. Values of δ13C that did not differ significantly among populations were higher than those from feathers of known European origin and indicated a C4 biome. Three populations with an unknown migratory direction were assigned to the SE-migrating populations on the basis of δ15N values.


Acrocephalus scirpaceus Migratory connectivity Migratory divide Ringing recoveries Stable isotopes 



Thanks are due to an untold army of ringers in reed beds who have sampled a respectable number of recoveries over several decades. We are grateful to the EURING schemes which made their recoveries available and to Chris du Feu who sent us the data. Julia Bojarinova, Jaroslav Cepák, Alan Crabtree and Ray Galea kindly provided additional recoveries. Javier R. Álvarez (Grupo Phylloscopus), Bruno Bargain, Stefan Bräger, Froukje and Kees Breek, Charles Coleiro, Vladimir Fedorov, Ray Galea, Jiří Reif, Sergio Scebba (Gruppo Inanellamento Limicoli), Rob J. Thomas and Alfréd Trnka selflessly sampled feathers at their sites, Luka Jurinović helped with netting in Croatia. Eliza Yohannes and Vladislav Kosarev provided unpublished feather stable isotope measurements of birds from Rybachy. Mano Benjamin and Blanca Mora Alvarez assisted with the preparation of samples for stable isotope analyses. Jan Zárybnický and several other people made various contributions. Suggestions of Milica Požgayová and anonymous referees helped to improve earlier versions of the manuscript. Sampling adhered to the legal and ethical requirements in all the countries involved. PP was supported by GA AV CR (grant no. KJB600930508), ESF BIRD Programme and Croatian-Czech inter-academy exchange, and KAH was supported by an operating grant from Environment Canada.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petr Procházka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Keith A. Hobson
    • 2
  • Zsolt Karcza
    • 3
  • Jelena Kralj
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Vertebrate Biology AS CRBrnoCzech Republic
  2. 2.Environment CanadaSaskatoonCanada
  3. 3.Hungarian Bird Ringing CentreMME/BirdLife HungaryBudapestHungary
  4. 4.Institute for Ornithology CASAZagrebCroatia

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