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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 441:281-294 (2011)  -  DOI:

Variability of resource partitioning in sympatric tropical boobies

Michelle A. Kappes1,*, Henri Weimerskirch2, David Pinaud2, Matthieu Le Corre1

1Laboratoire d’Écologie Marine, Université de la Réunion, 15 avenue René Cassin, BP 7151, 97715 Saint Denis, Île de la Réunion, France
2Centre d’Études Biologiques de Chizé, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 79360 Villiers en Bois, France

ABSTRACT: Inter- and intraspecific competition can lead to resource partitioning in sympatric species, processes likely affected by environmental productivity and population size. We investigated the foraging behaviour and diet of masked (Sula dactylatra) and red-footed (S. sula) boobies at Tromelin Island, western Indian Ocean, to examine the role of resource partitioning in the foraging strategies of these sympatric species in an extreme oligotrophic environment. We compared our results to published studies with differing environmental conditions or population sizes. We used GPS loggers and Argos transmitters to track foraging movements and used time–depth recorders to estimate dive depths. Masked boobies travelled further and at faster rates than red-footed boobies, and sexes did not differ in foraging behaviour. Based on randomization tests, the foraging range of each species (95% utilization distribution; UD) overlapped significantly. However, at core foraging areas (50% and 25% UD), interspecific segregation was greater than expected by chance alone. No intraspecific spatial segregation was detected between sexes. Environmental characteristics of area-restricted search zones differed between species, but not sexes; masked boobies utilized warmer, deeper, and less windy oceanic environments than red-footed boobies. Masked boobies attained greater diving depths than red-footed boobies and consumed primarily flying fish, whereas red-footed boobies consumed mostly squid. Red-footed and masked boobies breeding in the extreme oligotrophic environment near Tromelin demonstrated greater dietary partitioning differences in foraging ranges compared to a less oligotrophic environment. This suggests that environmental productivity may play a role in processes of resource partitioning in these sympatric species.

KEY WORDS: Resource partitioning · GPS · Satellite tracking · Area-restricted search · Diet · Sula dactylatra · Sula sula

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Cite this article as: Kappes MA, Weimerskirch H, Pinaud D, Le Corre M (2011) Variability of resource partitioning in sympatric tropical boobies. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 441:281-294.

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