Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 9, pp 1907–1915 | Cite as

Energy budgets reveal equal benefits of varied migration strategies in northern gannets

  • Stefan Garthe
  • Katrin Ludynia
  • Ommo Hüppop
  • Ulrike Kubetzki
  • Juan F. Meraz
  • Robert W. Furness
Original Paper


We investigated migration and wintering of adult northern gannets (Morus bassanus) breeding in east Scotland, North Sea, by deploying geolocation loggers over three winters. The wintering ranges of these birds varied from the North Sea to the Atlantic off West Africa. Flight time was taken as a proxy for migration and foraging effort. Gannets wintering off Africa had higher total flight times during migration than birds wintering further north. Total flight times in different wintering regions were generally low. Birds off West Africa consistently spent < 25 % of daylight hours in flight, but birds further north showed more variable values that may reflect more variable weather or food availability. Winter sea surface temperatures ranged from 9 °C (North Sea) to 16 °C (West Africa). Thermostatic costs in winter as estimated by measuring thermal conductance in carcasses in still air and water were 28 % higher in North Sea than off West Africa. This effect is aggravated by higher thermostatic costs caused by stronger wind chills in the North Sea compared to the conditions off West Africa. Birds wintering close to the UK arrived at the colony on average 12 days earlier than birds wintering off West Africa. We conclude that the net cost-benefit analysis may be similar for all wintering areas investigated.


Basal Metabolic Rate Flight Activity Daylight Period Wind Chill Daily Energy Requirement 
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.



This study was part of the EU-funded project ‘DISCBIRD’ (‘Effects of changes in fishery discarding rates on seabird communities’, contract Q5RS-2001-00839). The experiments comply with the current laws of the UK. J. Crane, O. Engelhard and S.C. Votier helped with field work. Molecular sexing was carried out by K. Griffiths. Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple allowed us to work on the Bass Rock, and the Marr family provided safe transport to and from the island. S. Adler guided us on the use of GLMMs. G. Peters (earth & ocean technologies, Kiel, Germany) provided technical advice. M. Molis (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Helgoland, Germany) kindly provided the data loggers for the thermal conductivity measurements.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Garthe
    • 1
  • Katrin Ludynia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ommo Hüppop
    • 3
  • Ulrike Kubetzki
    • 1
  • Juan F. Meraz
    • 4
  • Robert W. Furness
    • 4
  1. 1.Research and Technology Centre (FTZ)University of KielBüsumGermany
  2. 2.Animal Demography Unit (ADU), Department of ZoologyUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Institute of Avian Research ‘Vogelwarte Helgoland’, Inselstation HelgolandHelgolandGermany
  4. 4.College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, Graham Kerr BuildingUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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