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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 625:163-179 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13042

Fine-scale foraging behaviour of southern Buller’s albatross, the only Thalassarche that provisions chicks through winter

Timothée A. Poupart1,2,3,*, Susan M. Waugh2, Colin M. Miskelly2, Akiko Kato3, Lauren P. Angel1, Karyne M. Rogers4, John P. Y. Arnould1

1School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science & Technology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia
2Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, PO Box 467, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
3Centre d’Études Biologiques de Chizé, UMR7372 CNRS/Univ La Rochelle, 79360 Villiers-en-Bois, France
4National Isotope Centre, GNS Science, PO Box 31-312, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Predators generally time their reproductive events to match the peak in prey resource availability in order to sustain the elevated energy requirement of offspring provisioning. Consequently, most temperate/polar seabirds breed in spring/summer, including the majority of small albatross species that have short breeding cycles. In contrast, the southern Buller’s albatross Thalassarche bulleri bulleri has a delayed breeding schedule, with chick-rearing extending throughout the entire austral winter. In the present study, the fine-scale at-sea movements and trophic niche of chick-rearing southern Buller’s albatross were determined at Hautere/Solander Island (New Zealand, 46°35’S, 166°54’E) during the 2016 and 2017 chick-rearing periods to investigate the winter foraging strategy used during this nominally challenging period. The tracks recorded by 15 males (n = 43) and 11 females (n = 21) revealed that foraging behaviour accounted for only a small proportion of time at sea, primarily influenced by the time of day. Foraging occurred mainly in the neritic waters of New Zealand’s South Island shelf, with individuals undertaking consistent short trips (≤230 km from the colony) or alternating short and long trips up to 1500 km from the colony. Fine-scale tracking data revealed that males spent more time foraging, during shorter trips than females. Their isotopic niches were small, with overlap between sexes, but with males having higher δ15N values than females. Time spent foraging was influenced by both static and dynamic oceanographic variables. These findings suggest that southern Buller’s albatross foraging behaviour, despite having to sustain chick provisioning in winter, is similar to that of summer-breeding congeners.


KEY WORDS: Foraging behaviour · Winter breeding · Bio-logging · Albatross · Thalassarche bulleri bulleri · New Zealand


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Cite this article as: Poupart TA, Waugh SM, Miskelly CM, Kato A, Angel LP, Rogers KM, Arnould JPY (2019) Fine-scale foraging behaviour of southern Buller’s albatross, the only Thalassarche that provisions chicks through winter. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 625:163-179. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13042

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