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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Marine distribution and foraging habitat highlight potential threats at sea for the Endangered Bermuda petrel Pterodroma cahow

André F. Raine*, Carina Gjerdrum, Isabeau Pratte, Jeremy Madeiros, Jonathan J. Felis, Josh Adams

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Marine spatial planning relies on detailed spatial information of marine areas to ensure effective conservation of species. To enhance our understanding of marine habitat use for the highly pelagic Bermuda petrel Pterodroma cahow, we deployed global positioning system (GPS) tags on 6 chick-rearing adults in April 2019 and constructed a habitat suitability model using locations classified as foraging to explore functional responses to a selection of marine environmental variables. We defined 15 trips for 5 individuals, ranging from 1–6 trips each, that included both short and long foraging excursions indicative of a dual foraging strategy that optimizes chick feeding and self maintenance. The maximum distance birds flew from Bermuda during foraging trips ranged from 61–2513 km (total trip lengths: 186–14051 km). Behaviorally deduced foraging habitat was best predicted at shorter distances from the colony, under warmer sea surface temperature, greater sea surface height, and in deeper water compared to transiting locations; our model results indicated suitable foraging habitat exists beyond the core home range of the population, as far north as the highly-productive Gulf Stream frontal system, and within the territorial waters of both the USA and Canada. Our results are crucial to inform management decisions and international conservation efforts by better identifying potential threats encountered at sea by this globally rare seabird and highlighting jurisdictions potentially responsible for mitigating those threats.