MEPS 578:213-225 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11932

Consistent variation in individual migration strategies of brown skuas

Johannes Krietsch1, Steffen Hahn2, Matthias Kopp1, Richard A. Phillips3, Hans-Ulrich Peter1, Simeon Lisovski4,5,*

1Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Institute of Ecology, Polar and Bird Ecology Group, 07743 Jena, Germany
2Swiss Ornithological Institute, Department of Bird Migration, 6204 Sempach, Switzerland
3British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
4Deakin University, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Centre for Integrative Ecology, Geelong, Victoria 3220, Australia
5University of California, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA
*Corresponding author:
Advance View was available online January 5, 2017

ABSTRACT: Seabirds show remarkable variability in migration strategies among individuals and populations. In this study, we analysed 47 migrations of 28 brown skuas Catharacta antarctica lonnbergi breeding on King George Island in the Maritime Antarctic. Brown skuas from this population used a large area during the non-breeding period north of 55°S, including parts of the Patagonian Shelf, Argentine Basin and South Brazil Shelf, areas which are characterised by high levels of marine productivity. However, individual birds utilised only a subset of these areas, adopting 1 of 4 distinct migration strategies to which they were highly faithful between years, and showed high repeatability in departure and arrival dates at the breeding ground. Although they spent the majority of the non-breeding season within a particular region, almost all individuals used the same area in the late winter, exploiting its seasonal peak in productivity. Overall, these results indicate consistent individual variation in migration strategies that may reflect a combination of genetic control and individual experience, but with considerable flexibility to shift distribution in response to prevailing environmental conditions.


KEY WORDS: Catharacta antarctica lonnbergi · Seabird ecology · Light-level geolocation · Non‑breeding distribution · Individual consistency · Ocean primary productivity · Migratory connectivity


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Cite this article as: Krietsch J, Hahn S, Kopp M, Phillips RA, Peter HU, Lisovski S (2017) Consistent variation in individual migration strategies of brown skuas. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 578:213-225. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11932

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