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Aquatic Biology

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AB 4:89-98 (2008)  -  DOI:

Associations between seabirds and subsurface predators around Oahu, Hawaii

Aaron J. Hebshi1,*, David C. Duffy2, K. David Hyrenbach3

1Department of Zoology, and 2Department of Botany, University of Hawaii, Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
3Department of Marine Science, Hawaii Pacific University, Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744, USA

ABSTRACT: Many species of tropical seabirds rely on subsurface predators such as tuna and dolphins to drive prey close to the ocean’s surface. We observed seabird foraging events from fishing vessels around the island of Oahu, Hawaii, to determine the prevalence and relative importance of different subsurface predators to seabird foraging. Sixty-nine seabird foraging events were observed, in 62 of which the presence and/or identity of subsurface predators could be determined. Of those 62, all but two involved subsurface predators and accounted for 99.8% of all foraging birds. Skipjack tuna Katsuwonus pelamis were the predominant (81%) subsurface predator involved in seabird feeding events, with odontocetes Stenella attenuata and Pseudorca crassidens (8%), mahimahi Coryphaena hippurus (6%), and yellowfin tuna Thunnus albacares (2%) being less common. Wedge-tailed shearwaters Puffinus pacificus and brown noddies Anous stolidus foraged in association with tuna schools more often than would be expected by chance alone. Red-footed boobies Sula sula, in contrast, did not associate with any subsurface predator in greater proportion than what would be expected by chance. Nine additional seabird species were observed foraging in association with subsurface predators, but not in numbers large enough for statistical analysis. This study highlights the value of regional investigations able to uncover the variable nature of seabird–subsurface-predator associations. The finding that, in Hawaii, at least 2 species of seabirds showed tight dependence on tuna underlines the need for tuna fishery management to address the potential indirect ecological effects of fishing.

KEY WORDS: Tropical seabirds · Subsurface predators · Skipjack tuna · Katsuwonus pelamis · Wedge-tailed shearwater · Puffinus pacificus · Hawaii · Pacific Ocean

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Cite this article as: Hebshi AJ, Duffy DC, Hyrenbach KD (2008) Associations between seabirds and subsurface predators around Oahu, Hawaii. Aquat Biol 4:89-98.

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