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Movement patterns of Sanderling (Calidris alba) in the East Asian–Australasian Flyway and a comparison of methods for identification of crucial areas for conservation
Most migratory shorebird populations around the world are in jeopardy, none more so than those of the East Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF). In order to preserve these highly mobile species detailed understanding of their use of fuelling and resting sites along the flyway is required. In this study we used light-level geolocators and new analytical tools to reveal individual breeding locations and detailed migration routes of 13 Sanderlings (Calidris alba) that spend their non-breeding season in South Australia. We then used these individual migration routes to identify the timing and location of important stopping areas and compared this with assessments based on leg-flag resightings and count data. During both northward and southward migration Sanderlings were found to make extensive use of five major areas distributed along the Chinese coastline, the Yellow Sea and the northern end of the Sakhalin Peninsula. Insights gained from these individual migration routes highlighted inherent biases in only using count and resighting data to identify important fuelling and resting sites along the flyway. These findings suggest that individual movement data may therefore be crucial to effective conservation planning of shorebirds in the EAAF and elsewhere in the world.