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Dunlin subspecies exhibit regional segregation and high site fidelity along the East Asian−Australasian Flyway


Lagassé, Benjamin et al. (2021), Dunlin subspecies exhibit regional segregation and high site fidelity along the East Asian−Australasian Flyway, Dryad, Dataset,


The degree that individuals migrate among particular breeding, migration, and wintering sites can have important implications for prioritizing conservation efforts. Four subspecies of Dunlin (Calidris alpina) migrate along the East Asian−Australasian Flyway (EAAF). Each subspecies has a distinct and well-defined breeding range, but their migration and winter ranges are poorly defined or unknown. We assessed the migratory connectivity of 3 of these subspecies by evaluating a dataset that encompasses 57 years (1960–2017), and comprises more than 28,000 Dunlin banding records, and 818 observations (71 recaptures and 747 band resightings). We present some of the first evidence that subspecific segregation likely occurs, with arcticola Dunlin wintering in areas of Japan, and other arcticolaactites and sakhalina Dunlin wintering in areas of the Yellow and China seas. Observations indicate that whether an arcticola Dunlin winters in Japan or the Yellow and China seas is independent of their breeding location, sex, or age. Furthermore, observations indicate that >83% of arcticola Dunlin exhibit interannual site fidelity to specific wintering sites. This suggests that the degradation of specific wetland areas may negatively affect particular individuals of a particular subspecies (or combination of subspecies), and if widespread, could result in population declines. Given the possible biases inherent in analyzing band recovery data, we recommend additional flyway-wide collaboration and use of light-weight tracking devices and morphological and genetic assignment techniques to better quantify subspecies’ migratory movements and nonbreeding distributions. This information, when combined, will enable effective conservation efforts for this species across the EAAF.

Usage Notes

Observation Data 

DUNL_observations.xlsx: An excel workbook file containing Dunlin recapture and resighting data. A ReadMe tab is included to help guide the user.

Summary of Dunlin Recoveries 

DUNL_recoveries_by_region.pdf: Count of Dunlin (Calidris alpina) recoveries within each nonbreeding region during migration (July–November and March–June, combined) and winter (December–February). Recovery data are presented for Dunlin of both known and unknown subspecies, and for individuals of the arcticola subspecies.

Summary of Dunlin Sites

DUNL_site_info.pdf: Summary of sites where Dunlin (Calidris alpina arcticola) exhibited interannual site fidelity during migration (July–November and March–June, combined) and winter (December–February).