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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 620:173-183 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12979

Breeding together, feeding apart: sympatrically breeding seabirds forage in individually distinct locations

Ellie Owen1,*, Ewan Wakefield2, Paul Hollinrake3, Alan Leitch3, Laura Steel4, Mark Bolton5

1RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Etive House, Inverness IV2 3BW, UK
2University of Glasgow, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, Graham Kerr Building, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
3RSPB Orkney, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Stromness, Orkney KW16 3AG, UK
4Scottish Natural Heritage, Great Glen House, Inverness IV3 8NW, UK
5RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy SG19 2DL, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Individuals can specialise such that mutually exclusive home ranges arise and the acquisition of site familiarity early in life can favour individual site fidelity in mature animals. Non-territorial individual foraging site fidelity (IFSF) has been reported frequently, and among seabirds, foraging theory predicts that IFSF is more likely in short-ranging, benthic-foraging species, because their prey occur predictably at small scales. We tracked 17 adult and 2 immature black guillemots Cepphus grylle (mean mass 406 g, median of individual maximum foraging range 4.3 km). Individuals consistently returned to the same feeding areas, such that IFSF was significantly greater than the null expectation at spatial scales of 0.1 to 5 km and did not decay significantly over 10 d. Immature birds ranged more widely than adult birds. Our study demonstrates that space use varies between individuals and that processes or threats occurring within the foraging range of a given colony may act disproportionately on some individuals rather than be equally distributed across a population. This finding contributes to a growing body of research on IFSF, which may have important implications for species management.


KEY WORDS: GPS · Tracking · Site fidelity · Individual foraging site fidelity · IFSF · Roosting · Black guillemot · Specialisation · Home range


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Cite this article as: Owen E, Wakefield E, Hollinrake P, Leitch A, Steel L, Bolton M (2019) Breeding together, feeding apart: sympatrically breeding seabirds forage in individually distinct locations. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 620:173-183. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12979

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