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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 391:209-220 (2009)  -  DOI:

Spatiotemporal habitat use by breeding sooty shearwaters Puffinus griseus

Scott A. Shaffer1,*, Henri Weimerskirch2, Darren Scott3, David Pinaud2, David R. Thompson4, Paul M. Sagar5, Henrik Moller3, Graeme A. Taylor6, David G. Foley7,8, Yann Tremblay1,9, Daniel P. Costa1

1Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, 100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, California 95060-5730, USA
2Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, CNRS, 79360 Villiers en Bois, France
3Department of Zoology, University of Otago, 340 Great King Street, Dunedin, New Zealand
4National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, 301 Evans Bay Parade, Wellington, New Zealand
5National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, 10 Kyle Street, Riccarton, Christchurch, New Zealand
6Department of Conservation, PO Box 108, Kilbirnie, Wellington, New Zealand
7Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, University of Hawaii, 1000 Pope Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
8National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, 1352 Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove, California 93950, USA
9Centre de Recherche Halieutique Méditerranéenne et Tropicale, IRD, 34203 Sète cedex, France

ABSTRACT: Breeding sooty shearwaters Puffinus griseus cycle between long (11 to 14 d) and short (1 to 2 d) foraging bouts at sea, but no information exists on bird behavior during these trips. We tested the hypothesis that shearwaters use these long trips to travel to distant Antarctic waters compared to remaining in local waters. Patterns of habitat use of 28 breeding sooty shearwaters were studied using 6 g archival data loggers that recorded location, environmental temperature, and diving behavior. Dive activity was compared to remotely-sensed environmental data to characterize the habitats visited by shearwaters on long and short trips. Sooty shearwaters traveled predominantly (70% of all long trips) to cold oceanic waters along the Polar Front (mean ± SD, 1970 ± 930 km from colony) on long trips or remained within warmer neritic waters of the New Zealand shelf (515 ± 248 km from colony) on short trips. Diving depths (mean depth 15.9 ± 10.8 m, max depth 69.9 m, n = 2007 dives) were not significantly different between excursion types. Activity patterns suggest that shearwaters commuted between distant foraging grounds (e.g. Polar Front) and the breeding colony and that more than 95% of diving activity occurred during daylight hours. Although shearwaters traveled primarily to Antarctic waters on long trips, occasional trips around New Zealand waters were observed; all but 2 birds were from the northern-most study colony. Oceanic habitats in Antarctic waters were substantially different from neritic habitats around New Zealand, indicating that shearwaters experience dramatically different environmental conditions associated with each excursion type. The ability of sooty shearwaters to use 2 vastly different habitats provides greater flexibility for maximizing resource acquisition during breeding and reduces competition near the colony.

KEY WORDS: Activity · Archival data logger · Diving · Geolocation · Puffinus griseus · Tracking ·Sea surface temperature · Sooty shearwater

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Cite this article as: Shaffer SA, Weimerskirch H, Scott D, Pinaud D and others (2009) Spatiotemporal habitat use by breeding sooty shearwaters Puffinus griseus. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 391:209-220.

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