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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 646:175-188 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13386

Spatio-temporal patterns of foraging behaviour in a wide-ranging seabird reveal the role of primary productivity in locating prey

Adam Kane1,2,*,#, Enrico Pirotta2,3,#, Saskia Wischnewski2,5, Emma Jane Critchley2,6, Ashley Bennison2,7, Mark Jessopp2,7, John L. Quinn2,4

1School of Biology and Environmental Science and Earth Institute, University College Dublin, D04 N2E5, Ireland
2School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, T23 TK30, Ireland
3Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Washington State University, Vancouver, Washington 98686, USA
4Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, Lee Road, Cork, T23 XE10, Ireland
5Present address: RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, RSPB, The Lodge, Sandy, SG19 2DL, UK
6Present address: Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
7Present address: MaREI Centre, Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, P43 C573, Ireland
*Corresponding author:
#These authors contributed equally to this work

ABSTRACT: Predicting the distribution and behaviour of animals is a fundamental objective in ecology and a cornerstone of conservation biology. Modelling the distribution of ocean-faring species like seabirds remains a significant challenge due to ocean dynamics, colony-specific effects and the vast ranges seabirds can cover. We used a spatial and behavioural approach to model the distribution of the Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus, a pelagic, central-place forager that can cover great distances while foraging. GPS data from birds tagged in 2 colonies over 3 yr were modelled with a range of environmental predictors of marine productivity. For both colonies, transitions to foraging behaviour correlated with chlorophyll a, and the distribution of foraging behaviour was also associated with areas of high chlorophyll a concentration in coastal but not offshore areas for one colony. Furthermore, there was evidence for colony differences in habitat use, prevalence of nocturnal foraging, and for some competitive exclusion on foraging grounds, even though the colonies were 170 km apart. Despite the extensive dataset, our models had modest predictive power, which we suggest can probably only be improved by including biotic interactions, including more direct measures of food resource distribution. Our results highlight the importance of including spatial complexity and data from multiple sites when predicting the distribution of wide-ranging predators, because patterns of distribution and habitat use likely differ across the range of a population.


KEY WORDS: Distribution · Foraging · Hidden Markov model · Manx shearwater · Puffinus puffinus · Productivity


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Cite this article as: Kane A, Pirotta E, Wischnewski S, Critchley EJ, Bennison A, Jessopp M, Quinn JL (2020) Spatio-temporal patterns of foraging behaviour in a wide-ranging seabird reveal the role of primary productivity in locating prey. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 646:175-188. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13386

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