MEPS 579:129-137 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12270

Ocean climate and egg investment in the black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 

R. T. Barrett1,*, K. E. Erikstad2,3, T. K. Reiertsen

1Department of Natural Sciences, Tromsø University Museum, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
2Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Fram Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
3Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Birds allocate substantial resources to their eggs during the laying period, resources also needed for other concurrent costly processes such as mate acquisition, nest building and site defence. Egg and clutch sizes may thus vary in response to food availability prior to egg laying. We investigated the variation in egg and clutch size of black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla in a North Norwegian colony over a 33 yr period (1980–2012). Considerable interannual variation was evident in both egg and clutch sizes, but no temporal trends were observed. To identify environmental conditions explaining the variation, we modelled egg size and number in relation to the influx of warm Atlantic Water (AW) into the Barents Sea and to the abundance of 2 of the kittiwakes’ most preferred prey species. Most of the variation was explained by the volumes of AW that flowed into the Barents Sea in winter and autumn. Both had a negative effect on egg investment. There was also a smaller, positive effect on egg investment of AW inflow (and capelin numbers for clutch size) immediately prior to egg laying. The negative impact of an increased influx of AW on kittiwakes may be partly due to the resulting warming of the waters, forcing a more northerly distribution of capelin beyond the foraging range of the kittiwakes at the colony or to changes at different trophic levels that are detrimental to kittiwake forage fish ecology. A further warming of the Barents Sea through climate change is thus forecast to be detrimental for kittiwakes.


KEY WORDS: Egg volume · Clutch size · Black-legged kittiwake · Rissa tridactyla · Ocean climate


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Cite this article as: Barrett RT, Erikstad KE, Reiertsen TK (2017) Ocean climate and egg investment in the black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla . Mar Ecol Prog Ser 579:129-137. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12270

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