Transatlantic migration by post-breeding puffins: a strategy to exploit a temporarily abundant food resource?
- 701 Downloads
The distribution of Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica) from Skellig Michael, south-west Ireland, was investigated using geolocation loggers between the 2010 and 2011 breeding seasons. All tracked birds travelled rapidly west into the North Atlantic at the end of the breeding season in August, with the majority undertaking transatlantic trips from Ireland to the Newfoundland-Labrador shelf. The furthest distance from the colony reached by each bird was not influenced by body mass or sex and was achieved in approximately 20 days. By October, all birds had moved back to the mid Atlantic where they remained resident until returning to the breeding colony. The most parsimonious explanation for the rapid, directed long-distance migration is that birds exploit the seasonally high abundance of prey [e.g., fish species such as capelin (Mallotus villosus) and sandlance (Ammodytes spp.)] off the Canadian coast, which is also utilised by large populations of North American seabirds at this time. Once the availability of this short-term prey resource has diminished, the tracked puffins moved back towards the north-east Atlantic. A relationship between relative abundance of puffins and zooplankton was found in all winter months, but after correcting for spatial autocorrelation, was only significant in November and January. Nevertheless, these results suggest a potential switch in diet from mainly fish during the breeding and early post-breeding periods to zooplankton over the remaining winter period. This study suggests that puffins from south-west Ireland have a long-distance migration strategy that is rare in breeding puffins from the UK and identifies a key non-breeding destination for puffins from Ireland. This has implications for the susceptibility of different breeding populations to the effects of possible climatic or oceanographic change.
KeywordsBreeding Season Spatial Autocorrelation Zooplankton Abundance Outward Migration British Antarctic Survey
We wish to thank Grellan Rourke from the Office of Public Works for facilitating access to accommodation on Skellig Michael, and Clare Heardman (NPWS) and Dave Thompson (National Trust) for assistance in the field. All puffin capture, handling and tagging procedures were reviewed and approved by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and carried out under licence Numbers 26/2010 and C051/2011 issued by National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The study was funded by a Beaufort Marine Research Award provided under the Sea Change Strategy and the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation (2006–2013), with the support of the Marine Institute, funded under the Marine Research Sub-Programme of the National Development Plan 2007–2013. Two authors also received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) and Knowledge-based Sustainable Management for Europe’s Seas (KnowSeas-, Grant agreement No. 226675). Comments from three anonymous reviewers greatly increased the quality of the manuscript, and their contribution is gratefully acknowledged.
- Boertmann D (2011) Seabirds in the central North Atlantic, September 2006: further evidence for an oceanic seabird aggregation area. Mar Ornithol 39:183–188Google Scholar
- Davis ND (1993) Caloric content of oceanic zooplankton and fishes for studies of salmonid food habits and their ecologically related species. (NPAFC Doc.) FRI-UW-9312. Fisheries Research Institute, University of Washington, SeattleGoogle Scholar
- DFO (2011) Assessment of capelin in SA 2 + Div. 3KL in 2010. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Advisory Report 2010/090Google Scholar
- Falk K, Jensen JK, Kampp K (1992) Winter diet of Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica) in the northeast Atlantic. Colon Waterbirds 15(2):230–235Google Scholar
- Frederiksen M, Moe B, Daunt F, Phillips RA, Barrett RT, Bogdanova MI, Boulinier T, Chardine JW, Chastel O, Chivers LS, Christensen-Dalsgaard S, Clément-Chastel C, Colhoun K, Freeman R, Gaston AJ, González-Solís J, Goutte A, Grémillet D, Guilford T, Jensen GH, Krasnov Y, Lorentsen SH, Mallory ML, Newell M, Olsen B, Shaw D, Steen H, Strøm H, Systad GH, Thórarinsson TL, Anker-Nilssen T (2012) Multicolony tracking reveals the winter distribution of a pelagic seabird on an ocean basin scale. Divers Distrib 18:530–542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gaston AJ, Jones IL (1998) The auks. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Harris MP, Wanless S (2011) The puffin. Poyser, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Lowther PE, Diamond AW, Kress SW, Robertson GJ, Russell K (2002) Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica). In: Poole A, Gill F (eds) Birds of North America. The Birds of North America Inc., PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
- Lyngs P (2003) Migration and winter ranges of birds in Greenland. Danish Ornithological Society, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
- Meinertzhagen R (1955) The speed and altitude of bird flight. Ibis 78:81–117Google Scholar
- Mitchell PE, Newton SF, Ratcliffe N, Dun TE (2004) Seabird populations of Britain and Ireland. Results of the seabird 2000 census (1998–2002). A&C Black publishers Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Newton I (2010) Bird migration, vol 113. HarperCollins, UKGoogle Scholar
- Pennycuick C (1997) Actual and ‘optimum’ flight speeds: field data reassessed. J Exp Biol 200:2355–2361Google Scholar
- Storer RW (1960) Evolution of the diving birds. Proceedings 12th International Ornithological Congress, pp 55–70Google Scholar
- Wakefield ED, McFarlane-Tranquilla LA, Hedd A, Phillips RA, Montevecchi WA, Aebischer A, Bogdanova MI, Boulinier T, Bried J, Catry P, Cuthbert RJ, Daunt F, Dias MP, Egevang C, Freeman R, Furness RW, Gaston AJ, Geraldes P, Gilg O, González-Solís J, Granadeiro JP, Gremillet D, Guilford T, Hahn S, Hamer KC, Kolbeinsson Y, Kopp M, Magalhães MC, Magnusdottir E, Militão T, Moe B, Neves V, Paiva VP, Peter HU, Petersen AE, Quinn LR, Ramirez I, Ramos R, Ramsay A, Ryan PG, Serrão Santos RS, Sigurõsson IA, Sittler B, Stenhouse IJ, Thompson PM, Witt MJ (2011) A newly described seabird diversity hotspot in the deep Northwest Atlantic identified using individual movement data Seabird Group, 11th International Conference, Plymouth, UK. http://www.seabirdgroup.org.uk/?page=conference