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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 565:197-215 (2017)  -  DOI:

Feeding ecology, isotopic niche, and ingestion of fishery-related items of the wandering albatross Diomedea exulans at Kerguelen and Crozet Islands

Yves Cherel1,*, José C. Xavier2,3, Sophie de Grissac1, Colette Trouvé1, Henri Weimerskirch

1Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, UMR 7372 du CNRS et de l’Université de La Rochelle, 79360 Villiers-en-Bois, France
2Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, 3001-401 Coimbra, Portugal
3British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, CB3 0ET Cambridge, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Feeding ecology and isotopic niche of the wandering albatross Diomedea exulans were investigated in the poorly studied population on the Kerguelen Islands and compared to that on the Crozet Islands. Fish (48% by mass) and cephalopods (46%) were similarly important in chick food at Kerguelen, while cephalopods (87%) dominated the diet at Crozet. Fish prey included mainly deep-sea species, with the Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides being the main item. Cephalopod beaks were identified, most of which were from adult oceanic squids. Albatrosses preyed upon the same taxa at both localities, but in different proportions. Histioteuthis atlantica (30% by number), Galiteuthis glacialis (13%), and Kondakovia longimana (10%) were the main squid prey at Kerguelen, while K. longimana (35%) and H. eltaninae (23%) dominated at Crozet. Chick feather δ15N values were higher in wandering albatrosses than in other oceanic seabirds of the 2 communities, indicating that the wandering albatross is an apex consumer together with the sperm whale and sleeper shark that have similar δ15N values. Satellite-tracked wandering albatrosses foraged in local subantarctic waters and farther north, with some Crozet birds overlapping with those from the Kerguelen population in western Kerguelen waters. Anthropogenic items (e.g. plastic fragments, hooks) were found in half the food samples. All fishery-related items were from the local toothfish fishery. The high number of hooks from Crozet indicated the presence of a fairly large number of illegal longliners in the area during the Austral winter 1998. A review of the feeding habits of Diomedea spp. highlights the need for more dietary investigations to achieve effective conservation and management of this endangered group of charismatic seabirds.

KEY WORDS: Cephalopod · Diet · Hook · Satellite tracking · Seabird · Southern Ocean · Stable isotopes

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Cite this article as: Cherel Y, Xavier JC, de Grissac S, Trouvé C, Weimerskirch H (2017) Feeding ecology, isotopic niche, and ingestion of fishery-related items of the wandering albatross Diomedea exulans at Kerguelen and Crozet Islands. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 565:197-215.

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