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87Sr/86Sr isotope fingerprinting of Scottish and Icelandic migratory shorebirds

By Jane Evans and Rhys Bullman


Biosphere Sr isotope composition data from Iceland and Scotland suggest that terrestrially feeding birds\ud from these two countries will have significantly different 87Sr/86Sr isotope composition in their tissues.\ud The aim of this study is to test if these differences can be measured within the bone and feather of migratory\ud wading birds, who feed terrestrially as juveniles, thus providing a provenance tool for these birds.\ud The study shows that birds can be distinguished on the basis of the Sr isotope composition of their\ud bone. The field for Icelandic birds is defined by data from juvenile common redshank (Tringa totanus)\ud and whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) which give 0.7056 ± 0.0012, (2r, n = 7). The majority of Scottish birds\ud in this study are from coastal regions and have a signature close to that of seawater of 0.7095 ± 0.0006\ud (2r, n = 9). The Sr ratios in the body tissue of these two populations of all Icelandic and Scottish adult\ud and juvenile birds analysed are significantly different (p < 0.001, at 95% confidence limits). Scottish birds\ud from inland areas such as a common snipe (Gallinago gallinago) record 87Sr/86Sr values as high as 0.7194\ud which reflect their non-marine diet. Icelandic redshank (Tringa totanus robusta) that have flown to Scotland\ud and returned to Iceland show the effect of the Scottish contribution to their diet with elevated values\ud of 0.7086 ± 0.0004, (2r, n = 6). Redshank found in Scotland that cannot be classified on the basis biometric\ud analysis are shown to be of Icelandic origin and analysis of the primary feathers from two birds demonstrates\ud that isotope variation between feathers could be used to track changes in diet related to the\ud timing of individual feather growth

Topics: Biology and Microbiology
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2009.07.006
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