Winter habitat use by Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius Ludovicianus) in Mexico: separating migrants from residents using stable isotopes
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Pérez, G.E. & Hobson, K.A. J Ornithol (2009) 150: 459. doi:10.1007/s10336-008-0364-0
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.