MEPS 391:139-151 (2009)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07818

Spatial interaction between seabirds and prey: review and synthesis

Per Fauchald*

Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Polar Environmental Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway

ABSTRACT: The Ideal Free Distribution theory predicts a close spatial match between predators and prey. Studies have shown that seabird and prey distribution seldom conforms with this prediction. In this study, I review recent theoretical advances in spatial predator–prey interactions and relate these with studies of seabirds and pelagic schooling fish and crustaceans. Studies on seabirds and prey have generally assumed that prey are nonresponsive. Predator–prey interactions should, however, be viewed as a 2-way spatial game where seabirds track concentrations of prey while prey move away from areas with high risk of predation. The outcome of the game depends on how seabirds and prey are spatially constrained. Constraints include the spatial distribution of resources, interspecific competition, the location of spawning and breeding areas, and limitations on diving depth. Although game theoretic models can explain some general aspects of the spatial interaction, the spatial distribution of seabirds and prey is generally much more aggregated and elusive than can be expected from the game theoretic equilibrium. This is because spatial pattern is formed through self-organizing behavior that includes schooling, local enhancement and area-restricted search (ARS). Schooling and local enhancement are processes with strong positive density dependence that destabilize the predator–prey interaction locally. However, the unstable local dynamics might be stabilized by spatial constraints and the effects of ARS processes at large scales.


KEY WORDS: Game model · Schooling · Local enhancement · Area-restricted search · Euphausia superba · Mallotus villosus · Clupea spp. · Diomedea spp. · Uria spp. · Rissa tridactyla


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Cite this article as: Fauchald P (2009) Spatial interaction between seabirds and prey: review and synthesis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 391:139-151. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07818

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