Seabird acoustic communication at sea: a new perspective using bio-logging devices

Type Article
Date 2016-08
Language English
Author(s) Thiebault AndreaORCID1, 2, Pistorius PierreORCID2, 3, Mullers Ralf4, Tremblay YannORCID5
Affiliation(s) 1 : Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Univ, Dept Zool, South Campus,POB 77000, ZA-6031 Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
2 : Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Univ, Inst Coastal & Marine Res, Marine Apex Predator Res Unit, South Campus,POB 77000, ZA-6031 Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
3 : Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Univ, Dept Zool, Percy FitzPatrick Inst, DST NRF Ctr Excellence, South Campus,POB 77000, ZA-6031 Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
4 : Univ Limpopo, Dept Biodivers, Private Bag X1106, ZA-0787 Sovenga, South Africa.
5 : Inst Rech Dev, UMR MARBEC Marine Biodivers Exploitat & Conservat, Ave Jean Monnet CS 30171, F-34203 Sete, France.
Source Scientific Reports (2045-2322) (Nature Publishing Group), 2016-08 , Vol. 6 , N. 6 , P. 6p.
DOI 10.1038/srep30972
WOS© Times Cited 9
Abstract

Most seabirds are very noisy at their breeding colonies, when aggregated in high densities. Calls are used for individual recognition and also emitted during agonistic interactions. When at sea, many seabirds aggregate over patchily distributed resources and may benefit from foraging in groups. Because these aggregations are so common, it raises the question of whether seabirds use acoustic communication when foraging at sea? We deployed video-cameras with built in microphones on 36 Cape gannets (Morus capensis) during the breeding season of 2010-2011 at Bird Island (Algoa Bay, South Africa) to study their foraging behaviour and vocal activity at sea. Group formation was derived from the camera footage. During similar to 42 h, calls were recorded on 72 occasions from 16 birds. Vocalization exclusively took place in the presence of conspecifics, and mostly in feeding aggregations (81% of the vocalizations). From the observation of the behaviours of birds associated with the emission of calls, we suggest that the calls were emitted to avoid collisions between birds. Our observations show that at least some seabirds use acoustic communication when foraging at sea. These findings open up new perspectives for research on seabirds foraging ecology and their interactions at sea.

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Supplementary Video S2 7 MB Open access
Supplementary Video S3 11 MB Open access
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