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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 378:259-267 (2009)  -  DOI:

Environmental determinants of foraging strategies in Cory’s shearwaters Calonectris diomedea

Joan Navarro1,2,*, Jacob González-Solís1

1Departament de Biologia Animal (Vertebrats), Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 645, Barcelona 08028, Spain
2Present address: Department of Conservation Biology, Estación Biológica de Doñana EBD-CSIC, Av. Américo Vespucio, s/n, 41092 Sevilla, Spain

ABSTRACT: Despite the advent of devices to track seabird movements, the extent to which productive areas and oceanic winds influence foraging strategies is still not fully understood. We investigated the main environmental determinants of foraging strategies in Cory’s shearwaters Calonectris diomedea by combining satellite-tracking information from 14 birds breeding on the Canary Islands with concurrent data on chlorophyll a (chl a) concentrations and oceanic winds. Additionally, we took blood samples at the end of each foraging trip and analysed carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stable isotopes to examine the use of trophic resources. All birds showed commuting trips, concentrating foraging activity exclusively on the African continental shelf. Foraging locations showed a strong association with chl a concentrations, suggesting birds select foraging areas according to prey availability. In contrast with other breeding colonies where Cory’s shearwaters use a dual-foraging method, birds showed a unimodal strategy and did not show differences in C and N isotope signatures in plasma, confirming that close proximity to highly productive areas strongly influences foraging strategies. In addition, birds tracked during 2 consecutive trips foraged in the same area, suggesting that high resource availability promotes fidelity to feeding grounds also at coarse scales. Persistent northeast trade winds blew during the study period, and commuting trips followed a consistent clockwise movement with a southwest heading while the birds foraged along the continental shelf, suggesting that birds used tail winds to reduce their flying costs. Our results corroborate that oceanographic conditions in the vicinity of the breeding colony have a strong effect on foraging strategies of pelagic seabirds.

KEY WORDS: Chlorophyll a · Foraging movements · Oceanic productivity · Oceanic wind · Satellite tracking · Stable isotopes · Canary Islands

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Cite this article as: Navarro J, González-Solís J (2009) Environmental determinants of foraging strategies in Cory’s shearwaters Calonectris diomedea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 378:259-267.

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