AB 10:181-191 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00277

Temporal and spatial patterns in the diet of northern fulmars Fulmarus glacialis in the Canadian High Arctic

M. L. Mallory1,*, N. J. Karnovsky2, A. J. Gaston3, K. A. Hobson4, J. F. Provencher5, M. R. Forbes6, G. L. Hunt Jr.7, T. Byers8, T. A. Dick9

1Canadian Wildlife Service, Box 1714, Iqaluit, Nunavut X0A 0H0, Canada
2Department of Biology, Pomona College, 175 W. 6th St., Claremont, California 91711, USA
3National Wildlife Research Centre, Environment Canada, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H3, Canada
4Environment Canada, 11 Innovation Blvd., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan SYN 3H5, Canada
5Department of Biology, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3N5, Canada
6Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6, Canada
7Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California – Irvine, Irvine, California 92697, USA
8Byers Environmental Studies, Box 1049, Teulon, Manitoba R0C 3B0, Canada
9Department of Zoology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2, Canada

ABSTRACT: The northern fulmar Fulmarus glacialis is a medium-sized seabird with a broad, circumpolar range in the northern hemisphere, and is the only petrel that inhabits the High Arctic. We used stomach analysis and stable isotopes (δ15N, δ13C) of muscles to examine the diet of 179 fulmars during the breeding season at 4 locations in Arctic Canada, to compare diet to those from studies conducted in these regions >2 decades earlier. Across sampling locations, cephalopods, polychaetes and crustaceans dominated dietary remains in fulmars, although there was some regional variation. Both stable isotopes and stomach dissections showed that a seasonal shift in diet occurred in May, after which fulmars fed at a higher trophic level, suggesting a difference in winter/migration diet and breeding season diet. After migration, fulmar digestive organs decreased markedly in size, and by the time chicks were hatching, these organs were still 17 to 39% smaller than their size when birds arrived at the colony. Despite ongoing changes in the marine environment in much of the Arctic due to global warming, recent fulmar diet samples were similar to samples collected in the 1970s and 1980s, except that a higher proportion of recent collections contained fish.


KEY WORDS: Arctic · Cephalopod · Crustacean · Procellariiformes · Reproduction


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Cite this article as: Mallory ML, Karnovsky NJ, Gaston AJ, Hobson KA and others (2010) Temporal and spatial patterns in the diet of northern fulmars Fulmarus glacialis in the Canadian High Arctic. Aquat Biol 10:181-191. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00277

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