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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13535

A two-fold increase in migration distance does not have breeding consequences in a long-distance migratory seabird with high flight costs

Paul Dufour*, Katarzyna Wojczulanis-Jakubas, S├ębastien Lavergne, Julien Renaud, Dariusz Jakubas, S├ębastien Descamps

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Whether variation of winter migration distance among individuals within a population has consequences on their reproductive performance has rarely been assessed. Using individual GLS-tracking, we described variation in migration distance, and its breeding consequences, in a Svalbard colony of the little auk Alle alle, a high-Arctic seabird with high flight costs. We found two distinct wintering quarters (north of Iceland and SW Greenland) implying a two-fold difference in migration distance (1500 vs 3100 km on average from the colony). This migration route from Svalbard to Greenland is among the longest recorded distances for an alcid species. Birds travelling a longer distance were more likely to be females and smaller, but more importantly, migration strategy had no apparent effect on reproductive performance (either timing or success). Our study questions predictive studies that suggested that the establishment of migration routes to different winter destinations may be limited by the energetic constraints of flight.