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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 724:141-154 (2023)  -  DOI:

Differences in foraging range between white-tailed tropicbirds breeding on inner and outer Seychelles islands

Orphéo Ensanyar-Volle1,2, Jennifer Appoo3,4, Nancy Bunbury3,5, Gemma Clucas6, Nasreen Khan7, Gérard Rocamora8,7, Cheryl Sanchez3,9, Annette L. Fayet2,10,*

1Université Claude Bernard, 43 boulevard du 11 Novembre 1918, 69622 Villeurbanne cedex, France
2Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Høgskoleringen 9, 7034 Trondheim, Norway
3Seychelles Islands Foundation, La Ciotat building, Mont Fleuri, Victoria, PO Box 853, Seychelles
4UMR ENTROPIE, Université de La Réunion, 15 avenue René Cassin - CS 92003, 97744 Saint-Denis Cedex 9, La Réunion, France
5Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall TR10 9FE, UK
6Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
7Island Conservation Society, Mahé, Seychelles
8Island Biodiversity Conservation Centre, University of Seychelles, Anse Royale, Seychelles
9Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Via A. Volta 6, 56126 Pisa, Italy
10Department of Biology, University of Oxford, 11a Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3SZ, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The foraging ecology and distribution of Phaethontiformes, an order of tropical seabirds, remains generally poorly understood, despite being essential to inform their conservation. Here, we tracked, for the first time, the foraging movements of breeding white-tailed tropicbirds Phaethon lepturus, a common but poorly studied seabird, in the Indian Ocean. We compared the foraging movements and habitat preferences of 2 populations, one from Aride Island in the inner Seychelles and the other from Aldabra Atoll in the outer Seychelles, ca. 1200 km to the southwest. We found considerable differences in foraging trip metrics between populations, with birds from Aride having an average foraging range 2 times greater (231 km on Aride vs. 105 km on Aldabra), and both populations feeding far beyond the protected areas around their respective colony. We also found differences in foraging range between incubation and chick-rearing stages and sexes. Using habitat models, we highlight the birds’ preference for deep waters, which may explain the greater foraging range of Aride birds, although human activities may also play a role. Our study provides unprecedented insight into the foraging ecology of white-tailed tropicbirds in the Western Indian Ocean.

KEY WORDS: Foraging movements · Habitat preferences · Population differences · Seabirds · Indian Ocean · Phaethon lepturus · Phaethontiformes · GPS tracking · GAMs

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Cite this article as: Ensanyar-Volle O, Appoo J, Bunbury N, Clucas G and others (2023) Differences in foraging range between white-tailed tropicbirds breeding on inner and outer Seychelles islands. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 724:141-154.

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