Request for collaboration | samples from Pectoral sandpipers

Dear Members of the Wader Study Group,

Dear Wader Biologists,


After our finding that male pectoral sandpipers fly thousands of kilometers through the arctic breeding range (, we want to understand how this behavior influences the population genetic structure of this species. Based on microsatellite markers, we genotyped a large sample of males caught in Barrow including those that went W to the Russian Arctic and E to the Canadian Arctic. Jakob Mueller analyzed the data and found no evidence for any structure, which is what we expected if males can move and reproduce across such a large geographical scale.


However, we can also test for a population structure using mitochondrial DNA, which is exclusively maternally inherited. This is interesting, because we do not know much about how female pectoral sandpipers sample breeding areas. The only information we have is that between-year site-fidelity is very low, but females could still return to the general area where they were born year after year. In this way, there could still be differences in mtDNA between e.g. Russian and Canadian breeding birds. Pavel Tomkovich already kindly provided 17 samples from females from Taimyr. An initial analysis of those samples, combined with samples from Barrow shows that there are a large number of haplotypes, but only limited evidence for a population structure.


We would now like to ask for your help to find out whether a population structure in females exists or whether the pectoral sandpiper is truly panmictic! To answer this, we want to extend the range of sampling as well as the sample size.



  • Do you have blood/feather/DNA samples from adult female pectoral sandpipers?
  • Do you work in an area outside Barrow where pectoral sandpipers nest and samples from females can be obtained?


If so, we would be grateful if you can contact us at


Thanks & best wishes,


Jakob Mueller, Wolfgang Forstmeier, Mihai Valcu & Bart Kempenaers


Prof. Dr. Bart Kempenaers

Director Dept Behavioural Ecology & Evolutionary Genetics

Max Planck Institute for Ornithology

E Gwinnerstr

82319 Seewiesen


Tel +49 8157 932334

Mobile +49 172 8351578


Featured photo: Pectoral sandpiper – ©Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Wolfgang Forstmeier