Spatial foraging segregation by close neighbours in a wide-ranging seabird
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Breeding seabirds are central-place foragers and therefore exploit food resources most intensively nearer their colonies. When nesting aggregations are close to one another density-dependent competition is likely to be high, potentially promoting foraging segregation (i.e. neighbouring colonies may segregate to search for food in different areas). However, little is known about spatial segregation in foraging behaviour between closely adjacent colonies, particularly in species that are wide-ranging foragers. Here, we tested for foraging segregation between two sub-colonies of a wide-ranging seabird, Cory’s shearwater Calonectris borealis, separated by only 2 km, on a small Island in the North Atlantic. During the 2010 chick-rearing period, 43 breeding adults of both sexes were simultaneously sampled at both sub-colonies. A GPS logger was deployed on each individual and removed after several foraging trips at sea. Blood samples (plasma and red blood cells) were collected from each tracked individual for stable isotope analysis. Results indicated partial spatial segregation between the two sub-colonies during local foraging trips (i.e. those of ≤1 day duration and 216 km from the colony) accounting for 84.2 % of all trips recorded. The location of the breeding sub-colony influenced the direction of travel of birds during local trips resulting in sub-colony-specific foraging areas. Although the oceanographic conditions associated with the foraging range of the two sub-colonies differed, no differences were found in the habitat exploited and in their estimated diets. This suggests that birds concentrated their feeding activity in patches of similar habitat and prey during the chick-rearing period.
KeywordsCalonectris Diet GPS tracking Individual specialization Stable isotopes
This research was co-sponsored by the Foundation for Science and Technology (Portugal) and the European Social Fund (POPH, EU) through a PhD grant to Filipe R. Ceia (SFRH/BD/64558/2009). The authors would like to thank the support given by the LIFE project “Safe Islands for Seabirds” (LIFE07 NAT/P/000649). We thank P. Geraldes and C. Silva for help in the field, J. Xavier for help in identification of prey items, C. Docal for conducting stable isotope analyses and J. Reynolds for helpful corrections and comments on the manuscript.
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