Northeastern Section - 42nd Annual Meeting (12–14 March 2007)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM-12:00 PM


ALLEN, Timothy T.1, FERRIGNO, Sean1 and RENFREW, Rosalind B.2, (1)Geology and Environmental Studies, Keene State College, Mailstop 2001, 229 Main Street, Keene, NH 03435-2001, (2)Conservation Biology, Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences, 2723 Church Hill Road, Woodstock, VT 05091,

Of fundamental importance to conservation of neotropical migrant songbirds is determining the wintering range and habitat, and connectivity between wintering and breeding populations. Methods using stable isotopes and elemental markers are being developed and refined to help determine migrant distribution, population connectivity, and habitat use. Because feathers contain elements present in blood at the time of feather growth, isotopic and elemental markers in feathers can indicate the location, habitat use, and diet of an individual when it grew the feather. We are investigating the use of wave-length dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRFS) for elemental "fingerprinting" of bird feathers. XRFS appears to have several advantages over other analytical techniques, in that it may require minimal sample preparation, thus providing cost-effective results with rapid turn-around. In addition, XRFS analysis is non-destructive, so the same feather material could be analyzed both for its elemental composition and its stable isotopic composition. Initial results show recognizable differences in feather composition between different species of birds.