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Migration stopover ecology of Cinnamon Teal in western North America.

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Identifying migration routes and fall stopover sites of Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera septentrionalium) can provide a spatial guide to management and conservation efforts, and address vulnerabilities in wetland networks that support migratory waterbirds. Using high spatiotemporal resolution GPS-GSM transmitters, we analyzed 61 fall migration tracks across western North America during our three-year study (2017-2019). We marked Cinnamon Teal primarily during spring/summer in important breeding and molting regions across seven states (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada). We assessed fall migration routes and timing, detected 186 fall stopover sites, and identified specific North American ecoregions where sites were located. We classified underlying land cover for each stopover site and measured habitat selection for 12 land cover types within each ecoregion. Cinnamon Teal selected a variety of flooded habitats including natural, riparian, tidal, and managed wetlands; wet agriculture (including irrigation ditches, flooded fields, and stock ponds); wastewater sites; and golf and urban ponds. Wet agriculture was the most used habitat type (29.8% of stopover locations), and over 72% of stopover locations were on private land. Relatively scarce habitats such as wastewater ponds, tidal marsh, and golf and urban ponds were highly selected in specific ecoregions. In contrast, dry non-habitat across all ecoregions, and dry agriculture in the Cold Deserts and Mediterranean California ecoregions, was consistently avoided. Resources used by Cinnamon Teal often reflected wetland availability across the west and emphasize their adaptability to dynamic resource conditions in arid landscapes. Our results provide much needed information on spatial and temporal resource use by Cinnamon Teal during migration and indicate important wetland habitats for migrating waterfowl in the western United States.

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