Marine Biology

, 164:119 | Cite as

Spatial overlaps of foraging and resting areas of black-legged kittiwakes breeding in the English Channel with existing marine protected areas

  • Aurore PonchonEmail author
  • Christophe Aulert
  • Gilles Le Guillou
  • Fabrice Gallien
  • Clara Péron
  • David Grémillet
Original paper


The English Channel is one of the most anthropized marine ecosystems due to increasing human pressures, both along the coasts and at sea. Numerous marine protected areas (MPAs) have been created in this area but their ecological relevance still needs to be demonstrated for mobile species such as seabirds. Here, we identified the at-sea foraging and resting areas of black-legged kittiwakes to quantify their spatial overlap with existing neighbouring MPAs. Using solar-powered GPS-UHF, we tracked at-sea trips of 36 kittiwakes breeding at three colonies along the French coasts of the English Channel: Boulogne-sur-Mer (Hauts-de-France, n = 11), Fécamp (Normandy, n = 14) and Saint-Pierre-du-Mont (Normandy, n = 11). While kittiwakes nesting at the two Normand colonies shared some of their foraging areas, birds from Boulogne-sur-Mer did not overlap their foraging areas with Normand birds. GPS-tracked birds from all three colonies remained close to the shore (<30 km) and mainly remained within French national waters. The existing MPA network encompassed >60% of all recorded locations, but MPA use was largely colony-specific. Habitat models built to predict habitat suitability confirmed that some MPAs encompassed highly suitable foraging and resting habitats for black-legged kittiwakes in the English Channel. Connectivity between the studied colonies was high, as indicated by inter-colony prospecting movements recorded in two individuals which supposedly failed their reproduction. Overall, this work highlights that marine species such as seabirds could benefit from existing MPAs. Nevertheless, the diversity of MPA types and their different roles complicates their effectiveness to protect marine biodiversity.


Successful Breeder Marine Protected Area Habitat Model Trip Duration Instantaneous Speed 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank all the fieldworkers involved in the capture of individuals and deployment of the loggers, particularly volunteers of the Groupe Ornithologique Normand. We also thank Thierry Boulinier for fruitful discussions. CA, GLG, FG and DG developed the study. GLG and FG conducted fieldwork. AP led the data processing, analyses and interpretation, with contribution from CP. AP led the writing and other authors commented on the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


This study was partly funded by Eoliennes Offshores du Calvados & Eoliennes Offshores des Hautes Falaises and French Agency for Marine Protected Areas. David Grémillet acknowledges the support of the French Polar Institute (Progr. ADACLIM 388).

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

227_2017_3151_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (257 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 256 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, UMR 5175CNRS-Université de Montpellier-Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier-EPHEMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Antenne Manche-Mer du Nord de l’Agence des Aires Marines ProtégéesLe Havre CedexFrance
  3. 3.Groupe Ornithologique NormandCaenFrance
  4. 4.MARBEC (MARine Biodiverity Exploitation and Conservation) UMR 248, IRDUniversity of MontpellierMontpellier Cedex 5France
  5. 5.FitzPatrick Institute, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence at the University of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa

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