Differential population trends align with migratory connectivity in an endangered shorebird

Zaine N. Morrick, Amanda Lilleyman, Richard A. Fuller, Robert Bush, Jonathan T. Coleman, Stephen T. Garnett, Yuri N. Gerasimov, Roz Jessop, Zhijun Ma, Grace Maglio, Clive D.T. Minton, Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, Bradley K. Woodworth

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Migratory connectivity describes the extent to which migratory species' populations are connected throughout the annual cycle. While recognized as critical for understanding the population dynamics of migratory species and conserving them, empirical evidence of links between migratory connectivity and population dynamics are uncommon. We analyzed associations between spatiotemporal connectivity and differential population trends in a declining and endangered migratory shorebird, the far eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis), with multiyear tracking data from across the Australian nonbreeding grounds. We found evidence of temporal and spatial segregation during migration and breeding: curlew from southeast Australia initiated northward migration earlier, arrived at breeding sites earlier, and bred at lower latitudes than curlew from northwest Australia. Analysis of land modification intensity revealed that populations from southeast Australia face greater human impacts compared to those from northwest Australia at both the breeding and nonbreeding grounds, a pattern that aligns with steeper population declines in southeast Australia. This alignment between migratory connectivity, human impacts, and differential population change highlights the importance of a full annual cycle approach to conservation that includes mitigating threats on the breeding grounds and better protecting nonbreeding habitats in Australia where far eastern curlew spend over half of each year.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere594
Number of pages13
JournalConservation Science and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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