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ESR 35:23-37 (2018)  -  DOI:

Ontogenetic changes in at-sea distributions of immature short-tailed albatrosses Phoebastria albatrus

Rachael A. Orben1,*, Amelia J. O’Connor2, Robert M. Suryan1,3, Kiyoaki Ozaki4, Fumio Sato4, Tomohiro Deguchi4

1Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2030 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA
2College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Oregon State University, 104 CEOAS Administration Building, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA
3NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Auke Bay Laboratories, Ted Steven's Marine Research Institute, 17109 Pt. Lena Loop Rd., Juneau, Alaska 99801, USA
4Division of Avian Conservation, Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, 115 Konoyama, Abiko, Chiba 270-11, Japan
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The ability of juveniles of wide-ranging species to locate distant foraging regions can rely on innate or learned information. Reliance on innate cues could be problematic when conservation actions facilitate reintroduction. In the North Pacific, the short-tailed albatross Phoebastria albatrus is recovering from extensive harvesting, and has recently benefited from translocation efforts. Yet little is known about how naïve juveniles disperse or about individual distributions of immature short-tailed albatrosses. The primary goals of this study were to quantify the ontogeny of movement patterns and spatial distributions and compare these between naturally reared and translocated short-tailed albatrosses. We tracked 51 albatrosses for up to 5 years post-fledging: naturally reared chicks from their natal colony on Torishima, Japan, and chicks that were translocated 350 km to the southeast to Mukojima, Japan. Initial, more northerly dispersal of translocated fledglings suggests the ability to adjust to a new departure location. Fledglings’ departure paths differed from previously tracked adults departing Torishima, yet like adults, the majority of fledglings (81%) reached the Bering Sea that first summer, further supporting large-scale innate orientation abilities. Juveniles showed strong seasonal changes in distributions, traveling more in winter and occupying regions not typically used by adults (e.g. California Current, Sea of Okhotsk). As they aged, juveniles began to exhibit habitat fidelity to shelf-break regions, as anticipated from prior studies, yet continued to explore new regions with low levels of spatial fidelity. Juvenile short-tailed albatrosses explored almost the entire species range, highlighting the impressive capacity of individuals to transverse the North Pacific.

KEY WORDS: Post-fledging migration · Juvenile distribution · Dispersal · Year-round tracking · Seabird · Home range · Albatross · GPS tracking

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Cite this article as: Orben RA, O’Connor AJ, Suryan RM, Ozaki K, Sato F, Deguchi T (2018) Ontogenetic changes in at-sea distributions of immature short-tailed albatrosses Phoebastria albatrus. Endang Species Res 35:23-37.

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