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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 404:259-274 (2010)  -  DOI:

At-sea movement patterns and diving behavior of Peruvian boobies Sula variegata in northern Peru

Carlos B. Zavalaga1,6,*, Joanne N. Halls2, Gina P. Mori3, Scott A. Taylor4, Giacomo Dell’Omo5

1Department of Biology and Marine Biology, 2Department of Geography and Geology, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403, USA
3Calle Eduardo del Castillo 2543, Lima, Lima 1, Peru
4Department of Biology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 2J3, Canada
5Ornis Italica, Piazza Crati 15, 00199 Rome, Italy
6Present address: Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Sonoyoma House 105, Sonoyama-cho 2-21-1, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-0812, Japan

ABSTRACT: GPS loggers and time-depth recorders were used to characterize the foraging behavior of the sexually dimorphic Peruvian booby Sula variegata on 2 islands in northern Peru. We evaluated whether (1) its foraging behavior differed from tropical boobies and temperate gannets (the Peruvian boobies feed in areas of enhanced productivity and high fish density), and (2) females and males exploited different foraging habitats as a consequence of size dimorphism. Birds foraged only during daylight hours, 1 to 3 times a day, in trips of short duration (median = 1.8 h). Overall, 92% of the total foraging time was spent flying. They fed exclusively on anchovetas Engraulis ringens, which were captured in shallow dives (median = 2.5 m, max = 8.8 m) with a dive median rate of 11 dives h–1 (max = 37 dives h–1). The median foraging range was 25 km (max = 68 km), whereas the median total distance traveled was 69 km (max = 179 km). Foraging site fidelity was high, and the orientation of foraging flights in any given day was similar among birds that departed at the same time. There were no sex-specific differences in 13 of 15 foraging variables; however, females dived slightly deeper and spent a larger proportion of time sitting on the water. We speculate that (1) the foraging behavior of Peruvian boobies contrasts with that of their tropical and temperate relatives as a result of the proximity and predictability of food sources, elevated energetic demands of the brood (up to 4 chicks) and high prey encounter rate in the Peruvian upwelling system, and (2) the lack of spatial segregation between sexes may be related to the attraction of birds to feeding aggregations that are formed in the vicinity of the colonies. Once the foraging patches are localized, females dive deeper because of passive mechanisms associated with a heavier mass.

KEY WORDS: Anchoveta · Diving behavior · GIS · GPS tracking · Peruvian booby · Sexual size dimorphism · Spatial segregation · Sula variegata

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Cite this article as: Zavalaga CB, Halls JN, Mori GP, Taylor SA, Dell’omo G (2010) At-sea movement patterns and diving behavior of Peruvian boobies Sula variegata in northern Peru. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 404:259-274.

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