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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 578:243-251 (2017)  -  DOI:

Shifting individual habitat specialization of a successful predator living in anthropogenic landscapes

Joan Navarro1,2,*, David Grémillet2, Francisco J. Ramirez1, Isabel Afán1, Willem Bouten3, Manuela G. Forero1

1Estación Biológica de Doñana CSIC, Avda. Américo Vespucio s/n, Sevilla 41092, Spain
2Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, UMR 5175, CNRS - Université de Montpellier - Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier - EPHE, 34293 Montpellier, France
3Computational Geo-Ecology, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics IBED, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 94248, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
*Corresponding author:
Advance View was available online May 15, 2017

ABSTRACT: Population expansions of successful species have gained importance as a major conservation and management concern. The success of these ‘winners’ is widely attributed to their high adaptability and behavioural plasticity, which allow them to efficiently use opportunities provided by human-modified habitats. However, most of these studies consider conspecifics as ecological equivalents, without considering the individual components within populations. This is critical for a better understanding of the main ecological mechanisms related to the success of winning species. Here, we investigated the spatial ecology of the opportunistic yellow-legged gull Larus michahellis, a clear example of a winning species in southern Europe, to examine its degree of individual specialization in habitat use. To test for such individual strategies, we applied specialization metrics to spatial data obtained from 18 yellow-legged gulls that were GPS-tracked simultaneously during the breeding season. The results revealed that population-level generalism in habitat use in the yellow-legged gull arises through varying levels of individual specialization, and individual spatial segregation within each habitat. Importantly, we found that the combination of individual specialization and individual spatial segregation may reduce intra-specific competition, with these 2 important mechanisms driving the success of this winning species.

KEY WORDS: Foraging strategies · Gulls · GPS · Habitat use · Individual specialization · Movement ecology · Opportunistic seabirds · Seabird · Spatial ecology · Winning species

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Cite this article as: Navarro J, Grémillet D, Ramirez FJ, Afán I, Bouten W, Forero MG (2017) Shifting individual habitat specialization of a successful predator living in anthropogenic landscapes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 578:243-251.

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