Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 329–336 | Cite as

Seasonal differences in at-sea activity of seabirds underline high energetic demands during the breeding period

Original Article

Abstract

We assessed seasonal differences in at-sea activity of Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus, Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla and Common Guillemots Uria aalge in the south-eastern North Sea. The three species correspond to different ecological groups, with Lesser Black-backed Gulls representing omnivorous generalists, Kittiwakes representing surface-feeding pelagic seabirds, and Guillemots representing pursuit-diving pelagic seabirds. Using data from aerial surveys, we differentiated between active (flying or scavenging at fishing vessels) and inactive behaviour (swimming). We estimated the activity budgets of all three species for the different seasons and tested for differences in activity between different seasons. All species exhibited significant seasonal differences in activity, with the highest levels of activity observed during the breeding season. Numbers of flying auks were, however, exceptionally low in autumn due to moult and guarding of not-yet fledged chicks at sea. Our results underline the high energetic demands of the breeding season that lead to increased foraging and travelling activity.

Keywords

Black-legged Kittiwake Lesser Black-backed Gull Common Guillemot At-sea activity Time–activity budget Seasonality 

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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nele Markones
    • 1
  • Volker Dierschke
    • 1
  • Stefan Garthe
    • 1
  1. 1.Research and Technology Centre (FTZ)University of KielBüsumGermany

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