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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 489:263-278 (2013)  -  DOI:

Foraging closer to the colony leads to faster growth in little auks

Dariusz Jakubas1,*, Emilia Trudnowska2, Katarzyna Wojczulanis-Jakubas1, Lech Iliszko1, Dorota Kidawa1, Mirosław Darecki2, Katarzyna Błachowiak-Samołyk2, Lech Stempniewicz1

1University of Gdańsk, Department of Vertebrate Ecology and Zoology, ul. Wita Stwosza 59, 80-308 Gdańsk, Poland
2Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Powstańców Warszawy 55, 81-712 Sopot, Poland

ABSTRACT: Knowledge of foraging behaviour is essential to understand both the ecological roles of seabirds and the constraints acting upon them in marine ecosystems. Here, we investigated foraging trips of a small planktivorous alcid, the little auk Alle alle, using miniature GPS loggers. We performed the study in 2 large breeding colonies in west Spitsbergen (Hornsund and Magdalenefjorden) with contrasting oceanographic conditions (Arctic and Atlantic environments, respectively). Generally, in both locations little auks foraged in areas with low sea surface temperature (Arctic-type water, marginal ice zone, and frontal zones) where preferred zooplankton are commonly abundant. In the Arctic environment (Hornsund), birds foraged significantly closer to the colony (up to 60 km) compared to up to 150 km in the Atlantic environment (Magdalenefjorden). Hatching and breeding success and chick survival up to 20 d as well as chick body mass parameters were similar in both studied colonies. However, chicks in the Arctic environment (Hornsund) achieved both peak body mass and fledging age earlier, suggesting faster chick growth than in the Atlantic environment (Magdalenefjorden). The importance for breeding little auks of nearby cold water foraging grounds may make them sensitive to predicted climate change with serious negative consequences for body condition, future survival and breeding success.

KEY WORDS: Zooplanktivorous alcid · Foraging range · Zooplankton · Calanus glacialis · Parental efforts · Breeding success · Chick growth · Spitsbergen

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Cite this article as: Jakubas D, Trudnowska E, Wojczulanis-Jakubas K, Iliszko L and others (2013) Foraging closer to the colony leads to faster growth in little auks. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 489:263-278.

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