The population of ruddy turnstones (Arenaria interpres morinella) that migrates through Delaware Bay has undergone severe declines in recent years, attributable to reduced availability of horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) eggs at this critical spring migration stopover site. Concurrently, this population has experienced annual low pathogenicity avian influenza virus (AIV) epidemics at this same site. Using a prospective cohort study design with birds individually flagged during May–June 2006–2008, we evaluated resighting rates (a proxy for annual survival) between AIV-infected and uninfected birds at 1 yr after capture, testing, and measurement. Overall resighting rate was 46%, which varied by year and increased with relative mass of the bird when captured. Resighting rates were not different between AIV-infected and uninfected birds in any period. In multivariate analyses, infection status was also unrelated to resighting rate after controlling for year, day, state, sex, body size, mass index, or whether the bird was blood-sampled. Thus, apparent annual survival in ruddy turnstones was not reduced by AIV infection at this migratory stopover. However, it is unknown whether intestinal AIV infection might cause subtle reductions in weight gain which could negatively influence reproduction.
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Vol. 56 • No. 3