Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 12, pp 2743–2756 | Cite as

Multi-scale foraging variability in Northern gannet (Morus bassanus) fuels potential foraging plasticity

  • Emeline Pettex
  • Svein-Håkon Lorentsen
  • David Grémillet
  • Olivier Gimenez
  • Robert T. Barrett
  • Jean-Baptiste Pons
  • Céline Le Bohec
  • Francesco Bonadonna
Original Paper


The survival of marine predators depends on behavioural plasticity to cope with changes in prey distribution. Variability in behaviour might predict plasticity and is easier to assess than plasticity. Using miniaturized GPS loggers over several breeding seasons in two Norwegian Northern gannet (Morus bassanus) colonies, we investigated if and how the variability within and between individuals, but also between colonies and years, affected foraging strategies. Results revealed strong individual variability (foraging trip durations, foraging effort and different foraging areas). Individuals from both colonies showed preferred commuting routes, flight bearings and feeding hotspots. Individuals from the largest colony used larger and more foraging areas than individuals from the small colony. Feeding hotspots and foraging ranges varied amongst years in the largest colony only. Our study demonstrated that gannets show flexibility by changing prey fields that are driven by shifting oceanographic conditions.


Flight Speed Minimum Convex Polygon Gentoo Penguin Trip Duration Total Path Length 
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 funded by the SEAPOP program (financed by the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and the Norwegian Oil Industry Association), the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management, and Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique. We warmly thank Sigbjørn Johnsen and Bjørn Dag Jenssen and his family for their logistical help in the field and Cyril Bernard at Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive Montpellier for his precious GIS help. We acknowledge Lorien Pichegru and Jérome Fort and the two reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emeline Pettex
    • 1
    • 2
  • Svein-Håkon Lorentsen
    • 3
  • David Grémillet
    • 1
    • 4
  • Olivier Gimenez
    • 1
  • Robert T. Barrett
    • 5
  • Jean-Baptiste Pons
    • 1
    • 6
  • Céline Le Bohec
    • 7
  • Francesco Bonadonna
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et EvolutiveCentre National de la Recherche ScientifiqueMontpellier Cedex 5France
  2. 2.Centre de Recherche sur les Ecosystèmes d’AltitudeChamonixFrance
  3. 3.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchTrondheimNorway
  4. 4.FitzPatrick Institute, DST/NRF Centre of ExcellenceUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  5. 5.Department of Natural SciencesTromsø University MuseumTromsøNorway
  6. 6.Société d’Echantillonnage et d’Ingénierie Scientifique en EnvironnementIle MolèneFrance
  7. 7.Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary SynthesisUniversity of OsloBlindern, OsloNorway

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