Lipid reserves of migrant shorebirds during spring in playas of the southern Great Plains

Craig A. Davis, Loren M. Smith, Warren C. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Inland-migrating shorebirds rely on wetlands as stopover sites to replenish nutrient reserves. Because wetlands are spatially and temporally dynamic, shorebirds may accumulate highly variable lipid reserves. We compared lipid reserves among four shorebird species (American Avocets [Recurvirostra americana], Long-billed Dowitchers [Limnodromus scolopaceus], Least Sandpipers [Calidris minutilla], and Western Sandpipers [C. mauri]) collected from playa wetlands in the southern Great Plains during spring 1993 and 1994. Because playas are ephemeral, we had the opportunity to examine the influence of a variable environment (a wet year and a dry year) on lipid reserves. Additionally, we examined the influence of different migration distances and strategies, and body sizes on lipid reserves. Western Sandpipers had the highest lipid reserves (41%-50%) and Dowitchers had the lowest reserves (18%). Least and Western Sandpipers had 7%-9% higher lipid reserves in the wet year than dry year. Thus, small-bodied shorebirds may be more affected by variable habitat conditions than large-bodied shorebirds because of their higher mass-specific metabolic rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-462
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2005


  • American Avocet
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Lipid reserves
  • Long-billed Dowitcher
  • Shorebirds
  • Western Sandpiper


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