Nebraska Game and Parks Commission


Date of this Version



2006 Klaassen M., Abraham K.F., Jefferies R.L. & Vrtiska M.


Ardea, vol. 94, no. 3, pp. 371-384. Copyright 2006, Nederlandse Ornithlogische Unie


The extent to which migratory birds that breed in the Arctic and winter in southern biomes rely on residual body stores for reproduction is unresolved. The short arctic summer and the limited availability of food early in the season constrain the time available for successful reproduction. Birds that are able to bring sufficient endogenous reserves to the breeding ground to meet, at least partially, the demands of egg-laying can initiate clutch production soon after arrival, thereby shortening the length of the breeding season and improving the chances of reproductive success. The amount of reserves available will be influenced by body size, the increased energetic and predation costs associated with carrying large stores, distances between staging sites and the location of the breeding grounds within the Arctic. Birds need not fly directly to the breeding grounds from the established temperate staging sites. Extensive feeding by migrants may occur in the Arctic, even within a few kilometres of the breeding sites as the birds track the retreating snowline. Irrespective of their size, birds are thus able to store some resources necessary for egg laying at local or regional scales. It is thus important to make a distinction between local capital and distant capital breeding. The extent to which a bird is characterized as a distant capital, local capital, or an income breeder not only varies between species, but also between individuals and seasons.