European flyway permeability and abmigration in Teal Anas crecca, an analysis based on ringing recoveries


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Abmigration, the switch between flyways, is thought to be frequent in dabbling ducks, and supposedly results from high female philopatry combined with winter pairing: a male pairing in winter with a female from another flyway may follow her to her breeding area and thus abmigrate. On this basis, the frequency of abmigration should be much higher amongst males than amongst females, should increase with time since ringing, and be higher if environmental conditions force birds from different flyways into the same geographical area in winter (in this case the Iberian peninsula in the case of cold spells). Analysing more than 9000 recoveries of Teal ringed in the Camargue, southern France, showed that even with the most conservative flyway definition, 15% of Camargue (Mediterranean flyway) individuals (both males and females) were subsequently recovered in the North-west European flyway. Moving a flyway boundary closer to the Camargue (i.e. to the south-east) increased this percentage to c. 32%. None of the predicted patterns were supported by the data: there was no systematic sex difference in abmigration rate; abmigration showed no consistent increase with time from ringing, and was not significantly more frequent after cold spells. These results suggest that there is permeability between these two flyways for all classes of individuals, which might better be considered as a continuum. This should be taken into account in the development of management and conservation policies for Teal in Europe.