Skip to main content

Inferring geographic origin, population structure and migration routes of a wintering population of Mediterranean gulls from resightings data

Abstract

Winter congregations of migratory birds are made by individuals of different origins and generally assumed to be variable across space and time, but the demographic characteristics of these temporal populations are poorly known. We used 2,216 observations of 472 colour-ringed individuals to estimate the annual local survival of Mediterranean gulls Larus melanocephalus wintering in NE Spain. In addition, by gathering the ringing information on the 19,856 individuals marked as fledglings in 18 countries between 1990 and 2009, we were able to infer the composition of population in relation to the country of origin. We coupled these estimates with geographic information to contrast hypotheses on the migratory pattern most likely used by the gulls in their first migration from their natal colonies to the wintering area. The probability of reaching the study area was negatively associated with the distance from the natal colony. Data were consistent with a migratory strategy that combines fluvial and coastal routes in an optimal way, seeking minimal distance along favourable terrain. We found that, after the first year, annual local survival at the wintering site (0.81 on average) was comparable with the one estimated at the breeding colonies, indicating a high individual fidelity to the areas used in winter. Our work shows that winter groupings may behave as real populations, shaped by breeding output and survival, and that the geographic origin of wintering birds can be explained by a simple model. The study of winter congregations can help understand a species’ population structure and movement strategies.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  • Annoni A, Luzet C, Megrin, Institute SA (2000) Spatial reference systems for Europe. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Brussels

  • Baechler E, Hahn S, Schaub M, Arlettaz R, Jenni L, Fox JW, Afanasyev V, Liechti F (2010) Year-round tracking of small trans-Saharan migrants using light-level geolocators. PLoS ONE 5:e9566

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barbraud C, Barbraud J-C, Barbraud M (1999) Population dynamics of the White Stork Ciconia ciconia in western France. Ibis 141:469–479

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bekhuis J, Meininger PL, Rudenko AG (1997) Mediterranean gull Larus melanocephalus. In: The EBCC atlas of European breeding birds: their distribution and abundance. T. & A.D. Poyser, London

  • Burnham KP, Anderson DR (1998) Model selection and inference. A practical information-theoretic approach. Springer, New York

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Cama A, Josa P, Ferrer-Obiol J, Arcos JM (2011) Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus wintering along the Mediterranean Iberian coast: numbers and activity rhythms in the species’ main winter quarters. J Ornithol 152:897–907

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Catry I, Dias MP, Catry T, Afanasyev V, Fox J, Franco AMA, Sutherland WJ (2011) Individual variation in migratory movements and winter behaviour of Iberian Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni revealed by geolocators. Ibis 153:154–164

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Choquet R, Lebreton J-D, Gimenez O, Reboulet A-M, Pradel R (2009) U-CARE: utilities for performing goodness of fit tests and manipulating CApture–REcapture data. Ecography 32:1071–1074

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coll M, Piroddi C, Steenbeek J, Kaschner K, Lasram FBR, Aguzzi J, Ballesteros E, Bianchi CN, Corbera J, Dailianis T, Danovaro R, Estrada M, Froglia C, Galil BS, Gasol JM, Gertwagen R, Gil J, Guilhaumon F, Kesner-Reyes K, Kitsos M-S, Koukouras A, Lampadariou N, Laxamana E, Lopez-Fe de la Cuadra CM, Lotze HK, Martin D, Mouillot D, Oro D, Raicevich S, Rius-Barile J, Ignacio Saiz-Salinas J, San Vicente C, Somot S, Templado J, Turon X, Vafidis D, Villanueva R, Voultsiadou E (2010) The biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea: estimates, patterns, and threats. PLoS ONE 5:e11842

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cramp S, Simmons KE (1983) The birds of Western Paleartic, vol III. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Cristol DA, Baker MB, Carbone C (1999) Differential migration revisited: latitudinal segregation by age and sex class. In: Nolan V Jr, Ketterson ED, Thompson CF (eds) Current ornithology. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, pp 33–88

    Google Scholar 

  • Dias MP, Granadeiro JP, Phillips RA, Alonso H, Catry P (2011) Breaking the routine: individual Cory’s shearwaters shift winter destinations between hemispheres and across ocean basins. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 278:1786–1793

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Egevang C, Stenhouse IJ, Phillips RA, Petersen A, Fox JW, Silk JRD (2010) Tracking of Arctic terns Sterna paradisaea reveals longest animal migration. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:2078–2081

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Fort J, Porter WP, Gremillet D (2009) Thermodynamic modelling predicts energetic bottleneck for seabirds wintering in the northwest Atlantic. J Exp Biol 212:2483–2490

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fort J, Pettex E, Tremblay Y, Lorentsen S-H, Garthe S, Votier S, Pons JB, Siorat F, Furness RW, Grecian WJ, Bearhop S, Montevecchi WA, Gremillet D (2012) Meta-population evidence of oriented chain migration in northern gannets (Morus bassanus). Front Ecol Environ 10:237–242

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Frederiksen M, Moe B, Daunt F, Phillips RA, Barrett RT, Bogdanova MI, Boulinier T, Chardine JW, Chastel O, Chivers LS, Christensen-Dalsgaard S, Clement-Chastel C, Colhoun K, Freeman R, Gaston AJ, Gonzalez-Solis J, Goutte A, Gremillet D, Guilford T, Jensen GH, Krasnov Y, Lorentsen S-H, Mallory ML, Newell M, Olsen B, Shaw D, Steen H, Strom H, Systad GH, Thorarinsson TL, Anker-Nilssen T (2012) Multicolony tracking reveals the winter distribution of a pelagic seabird on an ocean basin scale. Divers Distrib 18:530–542

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gauthier G, Pradel R, Menu S, Lebreton J-D (2001) Seasonal survival of Greater snow geese and effect of hunting under dependence in sighting probability. Ecology 82:3105–3119

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • González-Solís J, Croxall JP, Oro D, Ruiz X (2007) Trans-equatorial migration and mixing in the wintering areas of a pelagic seabird. Front Ecol Environ 5:297–301

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grande JM, Serrano D, Tavecchia G, Carrete M, Ceballos O, Díaz-Delgado R, Tella JL, Donázar JA (2009) Survival in a long-lived territorial migrant: effects of life-history traits and ecological conditions in wintering and breeding areas. Oikos 118:580–590

    Google Scholar 

  • Gschweng M, Kalko EKV, Querner U, Fiedler W, Berthold P (2008) All across Africa: highly individual migration routes of Eleonora’s falcon. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 275:2887–2896

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Guilford T, Freeman R, Boyle D, Dean B, Kirk H, Phillips R, Perrins C (2011) A dispersive migration in the Atlantic Puffin and its implications for migratory navigation. PLoS ONE 6:e21336

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hallgrimsson G, Gunnarsson H, Torfason O, Buijs R-J, Camphuysen K (2012) Migration pattern of Icelandic Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus graellsii: indications of a leap-frog system. J Ornithol 153:603–609

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hestbeck JB, Nichols JD, Malecki RA (1991) Estimates of movement and site fidelity using mark-resight data of wintering Canada geese. Ecology 72:523–533

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lebreton JD, Burnham KP, Clobert J, Anderson DR (1992) Modeling survival and testing biological hypotheses using marked animals: a unified approach with case studies. Ecol Monogr 62:67–118

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marques PAM, Sowter D, Jorge PE (2010) Gulls can change their migratory behavior during lifetime. Oikos 119:946–951

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mayaud N (1954) Sur les migrations et l’hivernage de Larus melanocephalus Temminck. Alauda 22:225–245 (in French)

    Google Scholar 

  • Mueller JC, Pulido F, Kempenaers B (2011) Identification of a gene associated with avian migratory behaviour. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 278:2848–2856

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Newton I (1998) Population limitation in birds. Academic Press, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Oro D, Martinez A (1994) Migration and dispersal of Audouin’s gull Larus audouinii from the Ebro delta colony. Ostrich 65:225–230

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pulido F (2007) The genetics and evolution of avian migration. Bioscience 57:165

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reynolds TJ, Harris MP, King R, Swann RL, Jardine DC, Frederiksen M, Wanless S (2011) Among-colony synchrony in the survival of common guillemots Uria aalge reflects shared wintering areas. Ibis 153:818–831

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sadoul N (1997) The importance of spatial scales in long-term monitoring of colonial Charadriiformes in southern France. Colon Waterbirds 20:330–338

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sergio F, Tavecchia G, Blas J, López L, Tanferna A, Hiraldo F (2011) Variation in age-structured vital rates of a long-lived raptor: implications for population growth. Basic Appl Ecol 12:107–115

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shevareva TP (1955) On the study of several biological features of the Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus) by the ringing method. Trudy Byuro Kol’cevanija Moskva 8:46–90 (in Russian)

    Google Scholar 

  • Siriwardena GM, Wernham CV (2002) Synthesis of the migration patterns of British and Irish birds. In: Wernham CV, Toms MP, Marchant JH, Clark JA, Siriwardena GM, Baillie SR (eds) The migration atlas: movements of the birds of Britain and Ireland. T. & A.D. Poyser, London, pp 70–102

    Google Scholar 

  • Stenhouse IJ, Egevang C, Phillips RA (2012) Trans-equatorial migration, staging sites and wintering area of Sabine’s Gulls Larus sabini in the Atlantic Ocean. Ibis 154:42–51

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tavecchia G, Pradel R, Boy V, Johnson A, Cézilly F (2001) Sex- and age-related variation in survival probability and the cost of the first reproduction in breeding Greater Flamingos. Ecology 82:165–174

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tavecchia G, Serra L, Baccetti N (2005) Colony specific variation in the use of a moulting site in the migratory little tern Sterna albifrons. J Avian Biol 36:501–509

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tavecchia G, Minguez E, De Leon A, Louzao M, Oro D (2008) Living close, doing differently: small-scale asynchrony in demographic parameters in two species of seabirds. Ecology 89:77–85

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • te Marvelde L, Meininger PL, Flamant R, Dingemanse NJ (2009) Age-specific density-dependent survival in Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus. Ardea 97:305–312

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • White GC, Burnham KP (1999) Program MARK: survival estimation from populations of marked animals. Bird Study 46(suppl):120–129

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilson EO (2000) Sociobiology: the new synthesis, twenty-fifth anniversary edn. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge

Download references

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank the large number of people whose work made the present study possible, in particular the ringers and coordinators of the national ringing programmes: the late Tatyana Ardamatskaya, Nicola Baccetti, Martin Boschert, Albert Cama, Josef Chytil, Monika Czyzak, Camille Duponcheel, Joan Ferrer, Pete Findley, Renaud Flamant, Vassilis Goutner, Lars Hansen, Sühendan Karauz, Zsolt Karcza, Peter Meininger, Antonina Rudenko, Vladimir Slobodnik, Jan Svetlik, Adriano Talamelli, Monika Zielinska, Andreas Zours and Antun Zuljevic. We are also indebted to the other collaborators who kindly provided additional readings of Mediterranean gulls. The following observers contributed >10 readings in the study area during the winter season: Raül Aymí, Albert Cama, Manuel Enrique Carballal, Joan Ferrer, José Luis Greño, Ferran López and Miguel Tirado. The study has received funds from the Spanish Ministry of Science (Grant Ref. CGL2009–08298), the Regional Government of the Balearic Islands and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Carles Carboneras.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (PDF 62 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Carboneras, C., Tavecchia, G., Genovart, M. et al. Inferring geographic origin, population structure and migration routes of a wintering population of Mediterranean gulls from resightings data. Popul Ecol 55, 343–351 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10144-013-0362-9

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10144-013-0362-9

Keywords

  • Capture–recapture
  • Larus melanocephalus
  • Movement strategy
  • Site-fidelity
  • Spatial variation
  • Survival