Flying to the moon: Lunar cycle influences trip duration and nocturnal foraging behavior of the wedge-tailed shearwater Ardenna pacifica

Type Article
Date 2020-04
Language English
Author(s) Ravache Andreas1, 2, 3, Bourgeois Karen1, Thibault Martin2, Dromzée Sylvain1, Weimerskirch Henri4, de Grissac Sophie4, Prudor Aurélien4, Lorrain Anne5, Menkes Christophe2, Allain Valerie6, Bustamante Paco7, 8, Letourneur Yves3, Vidal Eric1, 2
Affiliation(s) 1 : IMBE, Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, Avignon Université, Centre IRD Nouméa - BP A5, 98848 NouméaCedex, New-Caledonia, France
2 : UMR ENTROPIE (IRD—Université de La Réunion—CNRS), Laboratoire d'Excellence Labex-CORAIL, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, BP A5, 98848 Nouméa Cedex, New Caledonia, France
3 : University of New Caledonia / ISEA, BP R4, 98851 Nouméa Cedex, New-Caledonia, France
4 : Centres d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé – CNRS, France
5 : Univ Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, LEMAR, F-29280 Plouzane, France
6 : Secretariat of the Pacific Community, SPC, BP D5, 98848 Nouméa Cedex, New Caledonia, France
7 : Littoral Environnement et Sociétés (LIENSs), UMR 7266 CNRS - La Rochelle Université, 2 Rue Olympe de Gouges, 17000 La Rochelle, France
8 : Institut Universitaire de France (IUF), 1 rue Descartes, 75005 Paris, France
Source Journal Of Experimental Marine Biology And Ecology (0022-0981) (Elsevier BV), 2020-04 , Vol. 525 , P. 151322 (9p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.jembe.2020.151322
WOS© Times Cited 12
Keyword(s) Ardenna pacifica, Foraging, Lunar phase, Moon, GPS-tracking, Stable isotope analyses

Lunar phase and illumination are known to affect nocturnal behavior of many organisms, particularly through predator-prey interactions. Visual predators can benefit from higher light levels to increase their activity, while prey may decrease their activity to avoid predation. The lower number of nocturnal seabirds observed on colonies during full moon nights has been mostly interpreted as a predation avoidance strategy. However, it is also possible that shearwaters take advantage of the moon's illumination to feed also at night, and stay at sea to forage during full moon nights. We used miniaturized GPS-loggers to obtain 179 tracks from 99 wedge-tailed shearwaters breeding in New Caledonia, to investigate moonlight effects on individual behavior. Lunar phase significantly predicted self-provisioning trip duration, with individuals performing longer trips around the full moon. However, this relationship was not significant during chick-provisioning trips when adults have to frequently return to the colony. Adults mostly returned to the colony during moonlit periods, refuting the predation avoidance theory. Tracked individuals showed an unexpectedly high amount of nocturnal foraging activity (28% of total activity), positively influenced by the presence of the moon. δ15N stable isotope values were significantly related to the percentage of nocturnal foraging, but with a weak relationship, impeding our ability to confirm that wedge-tailed shearwaters fed on different prey when foraging at night. This study suggests that reduced colony attendance around the full moon may be linked to greater at-sea foraging opportunities in distant oceanic areas than to increased predation risk on land.

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Ravache Andreas, Bourgeois Karen, Thibault Martin, Dromzée Sylvain, Weimerskirch Henri, de Grissac Sophie, Prudor Aurélien, Lorrain Anne, Menkes Christophe, Allain Valerie, Bustamante Paco, Letourneur Yves, Vidal Eric (2020). Flying to the moon: Lunar cycle influences trip duration and nocturnal foraging behavior of the wedge-tailed shearwater Ardenna pacifica. Journal Of Experimental Marine Biology And Ecology, 525, 151322 (9p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :