Variation in plasma metabolite profiles can provide information on physiological state and relative rates of mass change in free-living birds caught only once, and this technique could be used to compare rates of mass change (fattening) among populations or sites in relation to habitat quality. We compared plasma metabolite levels, as an index of relative refueling rates, in migratory Arctic-nesting Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri), on a landscape scale at as many as nine sites over two years and during three different migratory stages within the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound region of British Columbia and Washington. There was significant intersite variation in plasma triglyceride levels in both years, but only for the northward migration. By contrast, there was little evidence of intrasite variability (i.e. metabolite profiles of birds using the same site were consistent between years and migratory stages), though we documented intrasite variation resulting from birds' use of different microhabitats at the same site. Plasma glycerol levels did not vary systematically among sites, though they varied among years; on average, birds had higher glycerol levels during northward migration than during southward migration. For the northward migration only, there was a positive relationship between plasma triglyceride levels and total macrofaunal prey abundance among sites. Birds using smaller sites with a lower index of mudflat exposure (mean number of kilometer-hours of mudflat exposed in a 24-h period, reflecting the opportunity to forage at each site) tended to have lower triglyceride levels.
Fisiología a Escala de Paisaje: Diferencias entre Sitios en las Tasas de Reabastecimiento Indicadas por Análisis de Metabolitos del Plasma en Chorlos Migratorios Silvestres