MEPS 393:259-271 (2009)  -  DOI:

Climate-forced seasonal mismatch between the hatching of rhinoceros auklets and the availability of anchovy

Yutaka Watanuki1,*, Motohiro Ito1, Tomohiro Deguchi2, Shoshiro Minobe3

1Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences, Hokkaido University, Minato-cho 3-1-1, Hakodate 041-8611, Japan
2Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, Takanoyama 115, Abiko, Chiba 270-1145, Japan
3Graduate School of Sciences, Hokkaido University, Kit-10 Nishi-8, Kita-ku, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan

ABSTRACT: Predator–prey relationships are key to understanding complex marine ecosystem dynamics. The match–mismatch hypothesis posits that predators time energy-intensive activities, such as reproduction, to periods of high food availability. However, predators may be constrained by various ecological or physiological processes, leading to mistimed activities relative to prey availability. We investigated inter-annual variation in the timing of breeding for a piscivorous seabird (rhinoceros auklet Cerorhinca monocerata) in relation to availability of a preferred prey item, Japanese anchovy Engraulis japonicus, using data collected over 18 yr between 1984 and 2006 at Teuri Island in the northern Japan Sea. Our primary goals were (1) to identify the climatic factors that affect the seabirds’ timing of breeding, proxied by hatching date, and anchovy seasonal availability, and (2) to quantify the fitness effects of predator–prey matches and mismatches relative to climate variability. Hatching date was later in years with lower spring air temperatures. Auklets switched their feeding from sandlance and juvenile greenling to anchovy when it was transported into the birds’ foraging range with the seasonal northern expansion of 13°C warm water from the south. The mismatch between hatching date and the period of high anchovy availability was most pronounced when spring air temperatures were warm, and there was a weak Tsushima (warm) Current. Spring air temperature was influenced by spring atmospheric pressure gradients in the Arctic and northern Eurasia, which drive the east Asian winter monsoon, whereas timing of the Tsushima warm water expansion was influenced by winter surface pressures over the western North Pacific. Chick growth rates, mass at fledging, and overall fledging success (fitness) were lower during mismatch years when the auklets fed less on anchovy. The auklets were constrained to adjust hatching date because the seasonal mismatch appeared to be driven by independent and unpredictable surface pressure patterns.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Match–mismatch · Seabirds · Atmospheric pressure systems · Reproductive consequences

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Cite this article as: Watanuki Y, Ito M, Deguchi T, Minobe S (2009) Climate-forced seasonal mismatch between the hatching of rhinoceros auklets and the availability of anchovy. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 393:259-271.

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