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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Short-tailed albatross Phoebastris albatrus nesting on an egg at the main colony on Torishima, Tsubame-zaki, Japan. Photo: Robert Suryan

Vokhshoori NL, McCarthy MD, Collins PW, Etnier MA, Rick T, Eda M, Beck J, Newsome SD


Broader foraging range of ancient short-tailed albatross populations into California coastal waters based on bulk tissue and amino acid isotope analysis

Short-tailed albatross Phoebastria albatrus were hunted to near extinction in the early 20th century, but little is known about their prehistoric migratory and foraging behaviors. Vokhshoori and co-authors compared the movement patterns of ancient and modern short-tailed albatross by measuring the carbon and nitrogen isotope composition of collagen and its constituent amino acids in bones collected from archaeological sites and recently by-caught individuals. Ancient populations primarily foraged in coastal waters off California, whereas modern populations rarely migrate farther east than the Aleutian Islands. The results show that the foraging range of ancient short-tailed albatross was more widespread and corroborate previously published genetic data that suggests this species had a more complex population structure in the past.


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