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High basal metabolic rates of shorebirds while in the arctic: A circumpolar view

  • Åke Lindström
  • M Klaassen
Publishing year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 420-427
Publication/Series: Condor
Volume: 105
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Cooper Ornithological Society

Abstract english

The basal metabolic rate (BMR) of Old World long-distance-migrant shorebirds has been found to vary along their migration route. On average, BMR is highest in the Arctic at the start of fall migration, intermediate at temperate latitudes, and lowest on the tropical wintering grounds. As a test of the generality of this pattern, we measured the BMR of one adult and 44 juvenile shorebirds of 10 species (1-18 individuals of each species, body-mass range 19-94 g) during the first part of their southward migration in the Canadian Arctic (68-76degreesN). The interspecific relationship between BMR and body mass was almost identical to that found for juvenile shorebirds in the Eurasian Arctic (5 species), although only one species appeared in both data sets. We conclude that high BMR of shorebirds in the Arctic is a circumpolar phenomenon. The most likely explanation is that the high BMR reflects physiological adaptations to low ambient temperatures. Whether the BMR of New World shorebirds drops during southward migration remains to be investigated.


  • Ecology


  • ISSN: 0010-5422
Åke Lindström
E-mail: ake [dot] lindstrom [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



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