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The southern Jiangsu coast is a critical moulting site for Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea and Nordmann’s Greenshank Tringa guttifer

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2020

Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Shanghai) Environmental Protection Technology Co., Ltd., Shanghai, 201100, People’s Republic of China.
Department of Integrative Biology, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO 80204, USA.
School of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia. CSIRO, EcoSciences Precinct, 41 Boggo Road, Dutton Park, Qld 4102, Australia.
School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.
Centre for Tropical Ecology and Biodiversity, Tunghai University, Taiwan.
1261 Dovedale Road, RD 2 Wakefield, Nelson 7096, New Zealand.
Hong Kong Waterbirds Ringing Group.
Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Shanghai) Environmental Protection Technology Co., Ltd., Shanghai, 201100, People’s Republic of China.
Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Shanghai) Environmental Protection Technology Co., Ltd., Shanghai, 201100, People’s Republic of China.
Conservation Ecology Group, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 11103, 9700 CC Groningen, The Netherlands. NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Coastal Systems and Utrecht University, Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands.
The Paulson Institute (U.S.), Unit 919, Tower 1, Beijing Sun Dong An Plaza, 138 Wang Fu Jing Street, Dong Cheng District, Beijing, China.
School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai, 200241, People’s Republic of China.
Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Shanghai, 200433, People’s Republic of China.
School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia. School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China.
*Author for correspondence, email:


The extent of intertidal flats in the Yellow Sea region has declined significantly in the past few decades, resulting in severe population declines in several waterbird species. The Yellow Sea region holds the primary stopover sites for many shorebirds during their migration to and from northern breeding grounds. However, the functional roles of these sites in shorebirds’ stopover ecology remain poorly understood. Through field surveys between July and November 2015, we investigated the stopover and moult schedules of migratory shorebirds along the southern Jiangsu coast, eastern China during their southbound migration, with a focus on the ‘Critically Endangered’ Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea and ‘Endangered’ Nordmann’s Greenshank Tringa guttifer. Long-term count data indicate that both species regularly occur in globally important number in southern Jiangsu coast, constituting 16.67–49.34% and 64.0–80.67% of their global population estimates respectively, and it is highly likely that most adults undergo their primary moult during this southbound migration stopover. Our results show that Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann’s Greenshank staged for an extended period of time (66 and 84 days, respectively) to complete their primary moult. On average, Spoon-billed Sandpipers and Nordmann’s Greenshanks started moulting primary feathers on 8 August ± 4.52 and 27 July ± 1.56 days respectively, and their moult durations were 72.58 ± 9.08 and 65.09 ± 2.40 days. In addition, some individuals of several other shorebird species including the ‘Endangered’ Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris, ‘Near Threatened’ Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, ‘Near Threatened’ Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata and Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii also underwent primary moult. Our work highlights the importance of the southern Jiangsu region as the primary moulting ground for these species, reinforcing that conservation of shorebird habitat including both intertidal flats and supratidal roosting sites in this region is critical to safeguard the future of some highly threatened shorebird species.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of BirdLife International

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The southern Jiangsu coast is a critical moulting site for Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea and Nordmann’s Greenshank Tringa guttifer
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