Seabird Sessions 15

grant-humphriesGrant RW Humphries
  • 13 Jul

Seabird Session 15 will be going ahead on JULY 15TH AT 0630 GMT (1830 New Zealand). Our two papers this week! Foraging behaviour links sea ice to breeding success in Antarctic penguins… The abstract reads: Population trends and breeding success variability of Adélie penguins, a bioindicator of Antarctic environments, have been attributed to changing sea-ice extents; however, causative mechanisms remain unclear. By electronically tagging 175 penguins in four seasons with contrasting sea-ice conditions, we show that ice-free environments enhance, not deteriorate, foraging efficiencies and breeding success. In an ice-free season, penguins traveled by swimming rather than walking, leading to larger foraging areas, shorter trip durations, and lower energy expenditure than three ice-covered seasons. Freed from the need to find cracks for breathing, dive durations decreased, and more krill were captured per unit dive time, which may also be associated with phytoplankton blooms and increased krill density in the sunlit ice-free water. Consequently, adult body mass, chick growth rates, and breeding success increased. Our findings explain the regional population trends and demonstrate a key link among sea ice, foraging behavior, and reproductive success in this iconic species.
AND A critical assessment of marine predator isoscapes within the southern Indian Ocean… the abstract reads: Precise and accurate retrospective geolocation of marine predators via their tissues’ isotopic composition relies on quality reference maps of relevant isotopic gradients (“isoscapes”). Additionally, a good working knowledge of any discrimination factors that may offset a marine predator’s isotopic composition from baseline isotopic values, as well as tissue specific retention rates, are imperative. We provide a critical assessment of inter-specific differences among marine predator-level isoscapes within the Indian Sector of the Southern Ocean. We combined fine-scale GPS tracking data and concurrent blood plasma δ13C and δ15N values of eight seabird species (three albatross, two giant petrel and three penguin species) breeding at Marion Island to produce species- and guild-specific isoscapes. Overall, our study revealed latitudinal spatial gradients in both δ13C and δ15N for far-ranging seabirds (albatrosses and giant petrels) as well as inshore-offshore gradients for near-ranging seabirds (penguins). However, at the species level, latitudinal spatial gradients were not reflected in the δ13C and δ15N isoscapes of two and three, respectively, of the five far-ranging species studied. It is therefore important when possible to estimate and apply species-specific isoscapes or have a good understanding of any factors and pathways affecting marine predators’ isotopic composition when estimating the foraging distribution of marine predators via their tissues’ stable isotope compositions. Using a multi-species approach, we provide evidence of large and regional scale systematic spatial variability of δ13C and δ15N at the base of the marine food web that propagates through trophic levels and is reflected in the isotopic composition of top predators’ tissues.

Zoom link will be available on Wednesday at 0615 GMT -