Endogenous reserve dynamics of northern common eiders wintering in Greenland

Simon Fraser University Biological Sciences 8888 University Drive V5A 1S6 Burnaby BC Canada
Polar Biology (Impact Factor: 2.07). 01/2006; 29(7):585-594. DOI: 10.1007/s00300-005-0093-2

ABSTRACT Endogenous reserves influence both survival and reproduction of many waterfowl species, but little is known about reserve levels of most species during the nonbreeding season, particularly those wintering at high latitudes. We investigated whether age, sex, and season were related to carcass composition of northern common eiders (Somateria mollissima borealis) wintering in southwest Greenland during 1999–2002. Adults carried more lipid and protein than juveniles during all winters. Among both age classes, males and females had similar fat levels but males carried slightly more protein. There was no dramatic seasonal variation in lipid or protein content. This suggests that during the period of this study, these eiders did not experience large-scale nutritional shortfalls. As predicted, Greenlandic eiders carried more lipid reserves than eider populations wintering in more temperate environments. Contrary to prediction, there was little relation between reserve levels and photoperiod, ambient temperature, or hunting disturbance intensity. Our results suggest that both sexes are equally capable of dealing with nutritional deficits, and that juvenile birds are more prone to nutritional stress as evidenced by their consistently poorer body condition.

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