Marbled Godwits (Limosa fedoa) breed in 3 disparate areas: The majority breed in the prairies of midcontinental North America, but there are also 2 small and widely separated tundra-breeding populations, 1 in eastern Canada and 1 on the Alaska Peninsula, USA. The major winter ranges include the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts of the USA and Mexico. Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge at Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA, is a major stopover site, hosting large godwit populations in the spring and fall. Although the distributions of Marbled Godwit populations and their habitats across the landscape are generally known, the linkages between them are not. We tracked 23 Marbled Godwits equipped with satellite transmitters from sites in Utah, Mexico, Canada, and coastal Georgia during 2006–2010. Our goals were to characterize the migration strategy of Marbled Godwit populations and to determine migratory connectivity of major breeding, staging, and wintering areas. We found that: 1) godwits breeding in the western USA and Canada followed an overland route to winter sites in Mexico after departing their Utah stopover site; 2) godwits tagged in eastern Canada migrated across the continental USA and wintered at sites along the Gulf of California, Mexico; and 3) godwits wintering in coastal Georgia bred in North and South Dakota. We believe this to be the first demonstration of a continental “crisscross” migration pattern in a shorebird. We identified differences in migration elements such as distances traveled, timing of migration, duration, residency, and stopover strategy between the subpopulations, but not between males and females.
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Vol. 116 • No. 2