We examined differential migration in the Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) with respect to body size and wing chord allometry within sex and age categories. Culmen and wing chord data were collected as indices of structural body size at three sites that vary latitudinally: Ecuador, Panama, and Mexico. Within all sex and age categories, larger individuals (i.e., those with longer culmens and wing chords) and those with a disproportionately longer wing chord relative to the culmen migrated farther south. Our results, coupled with known molting schedules, indicate that i) immature sandpipers that grow disproportionately longer primary feathers on breeding grounds migrate farther during their first southward migration, and ii) adults that fly farther grow disproportionately longer primary feathers on the nonbreeding grounds. Although no single-factor hypothesis accounts for all aspects of age, sex, and size of Western Sandpiper distributions, costs associated with flight during migration play a significant role in determining differential nonbreeding latitudinal distributions.
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Vol. 108 • No. 1