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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 651:163-181 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13439

Habitat preferences, foraging behaviour and bycatch risk among breeding sooty shearwaters Ardenna grisea in the Southwest Atlantic

Anne-Sophie Bonnet-Lebrun1,2,3,8,*, Paulo Catry1, Tyler J. Clark4,9, Letizia Campioni1, Amanda Kuepfer5,6,7, Megan Tierny6, Elizabeth Kilbride4, Ewan D. Wakefield4

1MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, ISPA - Instituto Universitário, Rua Jardim do Tabaco 34, 1149-041 Lisboa, Portugal
2Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
3Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive CEFE UMR 5175, CNRS—Université de Montpellier - Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier—EPHE, 34293 Montpellier cedex 5, France
4Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
5FIFD—Falkland Islands Fisheries Department, Falkland Islands Government, PO Box 598, Stanley, Falkland Islands, FIQQ 1ZZ, UK
6SAERI—South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute, Stanley, Falkland Islands, FIQQ 1ZZ, UK
7Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn TR10 9FE, UK
8Present address: British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB4 0ET, UK
9Present address: Wildlife Biology Program, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive, Missoula, Montana 59812, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Pelagic seabirds are important components of many marine ecosystems. The most abundant species are medium/small sized petrels (<1100 g), yet the sub-mesoscale (<10 km) distribution, habitat use and foraging behaviour of this group are not well understood. Sooty shearwaters Ardenna grisea are among the world’s most numerous pelagic seabirds. The majority inhabit the Pacific, where they have declined, partly due to bycatch and other anthropogenic impacts, but they are increasing in the Atlantic. To evaluate the sub-mesoscale habitat preferences (i.e. the disproportionality between habitat use and availability), diving behaviour and bycatch risk of Atlantic breeders, we tracked sooty shearwaters from the Falkland Islands during late incubation and early chick-rearing with GPS loggers (n = 20), geolocators (n = 10) and time-depth recorders (n = 10). These birds foraged exclusively in neritic and shelf-break waters, principally over the Burdwood Bank, ~350 km from their colony. Like New Zealand breeders, they dived mostly during daylight, especially at dawn and dusk, consistent with the exploitation of vertically migrating prey. However, Falkland birds made shorter foraging trips, shallower dives, and did not forage in oceanic waters. Their overlap with fisheries was low, and they foraged at shallower depths than those targeted by trawlers, the most frequent fishing vessels encountered, indicating that bycatch risk was low during late incubation/early chick-rearing. Although our results should be treated with caution, they indicate that Atlantic and Pacific sooty shearwaters may experience markedly differing pressures at sea. Comparative study between these populations, e.g. combining biologging and demography, is therefore warranted.


KEY WORDS: Benthic-pelagic coupling · Dual foraging · Marine protected areas · Diving behaviour


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Cite this article as: Bonnet-Lebrun AS, Catry P, Clark TJ, Campioni L and others (2020) Habitat preferences, foraging behaviour and bycatch risk among breeding sooty shearwaters Ardenna grisea in the Southwest Atlantic. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 651:163-181. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13439

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