Journal of Ornithology

, 150:459 | Cite as

Winter habitat use by Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius Ludovicianus) in Mexico: separating migrants from residents using stable isotopes

Original Article


Several species of migrant birds overlap in range on their wintering grounds with non-migrant conspecifics or other species that occupy a similar niche. Very little is known whether such overlap results in competition and subsequent habitat segregation since it is usually impossible to separate resident from migrant individuals. The Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) is a declining grassland species in North America that winters in the southern United States and Mexico. Using stable-hydrogen isotope (δD) analysis of feathers, we identified resident and migrant shrikes wintering in northeastern Mexico based on a latitudinal gradient in precipitation and feather δD values. Indicator species analyses showed that migrants occupied areas where bare ground was less available than those occupied by residents, a pattern which held when a more restricted set of birds from the extremes of the δD distribution were considered. This provides evidence for conspecific habitat segregation. Habitat differences were also found between sites occupied by shrikes and apparently suitable but unoccupied sites. Shrikes occupied more open sites that contained shorter tall shrubs and huisache (Acacia farneasiana) and fewer tall shrubs, mesquite (Prosopsis glandulosa) and huisache than unoccupied sites. The availability of suitable winter habitat and the potential competition between migrants and residents may be factors that influence the population dynamics of migrant shrikes in North America.


Conspecific Habitat Isotopes Migration Shrikes Wintering 



Special thanks to A. Lafón and J. Vega for obtaining permits to work in Mexico. We are extremely thankful to Steve Van Wilgenburg for his statistical guidance. Thanks to M. Ochoa, R. Pineda, J. Morales, R. Cardenas and J. Cadenas for their field assistance. Len Wassenaar provided excellent assistance with the isotopic measurements that were conducted in his laboratory. G.E.P. is extremely grateful for a Saskatchewan Environment Award, Malcolm Ramsay Memorial Student Award, Kathleen Anderson Award, Orville Erickson Memorial Scholarship Fund and Endangered Species Recovery Program for funding. This research complied with current laws in both Canada and Mexico.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Environment CanadaSaskatoonCanada

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