Tracking, feather moult and stable isotopes reveal foraging behaviour of a critically endangered seabird during the non-breeding season

Type Article
Date 2017-02
Language English
Author(s) Meier Rhiannon E.1, Votier Stephen C.2, Wynn Russell B.1, Guilford Tim3, Mcminn Grive Miguel4, Rodriguez Ana5, Newton Jason6, Maurice Louise7, Chouvelon Tiphaine8, 9, Dessier Aurelie8, Trueman Clive N.10
Affiliation(s) 1 : Natl Oceanog Ctr, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, Hants, England.
2 : Univ Exeter, Environm & Sustainabil Inst, Penryn Campus, Penryn TR10 9FE, Cornwall, England.
3 : Univ Oxford, Dept Zool, Anim Behaviour Res Grp, Tinbergen Bldg,South Parks Rd, Oxford OX1 3PS, England.
4 : Univ Illes Balears, Biogeog Geodinam & Sedimentacio Mediterrania Occi, Cra Valldemossa,Km 7-5, Palma De Mallorca 07122, Illes Balears, Spain.
5 : Balear Shearwater Conservat Assoc, Puig Teide 4-315, Palmanova 07181, Illes Balears, Spain.
6 : Scottish Univ, Environm Res Ctr, NERC Life Sci Mass Spectrometry Facil, Scottish Enterprise Technol Pk, E Kilbride G75 0QF, Lanark, Scotland.
7 : British Geol Survey, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford OX10 8BB, Oxon, England.
8 : Univ La Rochelle, CNRS, UMR 7266, LIENSs, 2 Rue Olympe Gouges, F-17042 La Rochelle 01, France.
9 : IFREMER, Unite Biogeochim & Ecotoxicol BE, LBCM, Rue Ile Yeu, F-44311 Nantes 03, France.
10 : Univ Southampton Waterfront Campus, Ocean & Earth Sci, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, Hants, England.
Source Diversity And Distributions (1366-9516) (Wiley-blackwell), 2017-02 , Vol. 23 , N. 2 , P. 130-145
DOI 10.1111/ddi.12509
WOS© Times Cited 29
Keyword(s) Balearic shearwater, diet, discards, feeding ecology, fisheries, migration, trophic
Abstract Aim

The movement patterns of marine top predators are likely to reflect responses to prey distributions, which themselves can be influenced by factors such as climate and fisheries. The critically endangered Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus has shown a recent northwards shift in non-breeding distribution, tentatively linked to changing forage fish distribution and/or fisheries activity. Here, we provide the first information on the foraging ecology of this species during the non-breeding period.

Breeding grounds in Mallorca, Spain, and non-breeding areas in the north-east Atlantic and western Mediterranean.

Birdborne geolocation was used to identify non-breeding grounds. Information on feather moult (from digital images) and stable isotopes (of both primary wing feathers and potential prey items) was combined to infer foraging behaviour during the non-breeding season.

Almost all breeding shearwaters (n = 32) migrated to non-breeding areas in the Atlantic from southern Iberia to the French Atlantic coast, where the majority of primary feather moult took place. Birds foraging off western Iberia yielded feather isotope ratios consistent with a diet composed largely of pelagic fishes, while the isotopic composition of birds foraging in the Bay of Biscay suggested an additional contribution of benthic prey, most likely from demersal fishery discards.
Main conclusions

Combined application of geolocators and stable isotopes indicates spatial variation in dietary behaviour and interactions with fisheries. Our results imply that both pelagic fish and fisheries discards are important components of diet during the non-breeding period, which may have implications for the at-sea distribution of this migratory species. These findings will contribute to bycatch mitigation in non-breeding areas and provide baseline data that should inform future assessment of seabird responses to changing fishery practices and prey distributions.
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Meier Rhiannon E., Votier Stephen C., Wynn Russell B., Guilford Tim, Mcminn Grive Miguel, Rodriguez Ana, Newton Jason, Maurice Louise, Chouvelon Tiphaine, Dessier Aurelie, Trueman Clive N. (2017). Tracking, feather moult and stable isotopes reveal foraging behaviour of a critically endangered seabird during the non-breeding season. Diversity And Distributions, 23(2), 130-145. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :