The C and N isotopes of feathers from two subspecies of willow warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus trochilus and Phylloscopus trochilus acredula) are isotopically distinct. Our analysis of 138 adult males from 14 sites distributed across Sweden shows that the mean delta(15)N and delta(13)C values of subspecies acredula (from latitudes above 63 degrees N) were significantly higher than the mean delta(15)N and delta(13)C values of subspecies trochilus (from latitudes below 61 degrees N). The analysed willow warbler feathers had been moulted in the winter quarters and the observed isotopic signatures should thus reflect the isotopic pattern of food assimilated in Africa. The isotopic data observed in Sweden match the dine in morphology, both showing abrupt changes around 62 degrees N. This result agrees with data from ringing recoveries indicating that the two subspecies occupy geographically and isotopically distinct wintering grounds in Africa. Our isotopic data suggest that analysis of stable isotopes of C and N is a promising method to track wintering quarters of European birds that migrate to Africa.
|Journal||Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences|
|Publication status||Published - 2000|
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Biological Sciences