Behavioural plasticity in the early breeding season of pelagic seabirds - a case study of thin-billed prions from two oceans - INRA - Institut national de la recherche agronomique Access content directly
Journal Articles Movement Ecology Year : 2019

Behavioural plasticity in the early breeding season of pelagic seabirds - a case study of thin-billed prions from two oceans

Abstract

Background: In long-lived seabirds that migrate large distances independently of each other, the early part ofthe breeding season is crucially important for a successful reproductive attempt. During this phase, pair bondsare re-established and partners coordinate their breeding duties. We studied the early breeding season in Thinbilledprions Pachyptila belcheri breeding in the Atlantic Ocean (Falkland/Malvinas Islands) and Indian Ocean (Kerguelen).Despite overlap in the wintering areas, these two populations exhibit differences in their timing and direction ofmigration. We hypothesised that these differences would influence behaviour during the early breeding season.Results: In line with our hypothesis, we found very strong differences in colony attendance patterns. Thin-billed prions ofthe Falkland population spent the late winter period over shelf waters close to the colony, first arrived back at the colonyin September, and attended the nests interruptedly for one month, before departing on a pre-laying exodus. In contrast,Kerguelen birds remained in the non-breeding areas until mid-October and spent much less time attending the burrowbefore their pre-laying exodus. Despite this asynchronous arrival to the two colonies, the subsequent patterns resulted inremarkably synchronous incubation in both populations, with males taking on the first long incubation shift in lateNovember, whereas females returned to sea soon after egg laying. During the pre-laying exodus and incubation, Thinbilledprions from the Falklands spread north over the Patagonian Shelf, while prions from Kerguelen travelled muchfurther, reaching southern oceanic waters and moved at faster speeds (> 400 km per day). Although prions fromKerguelen moved much further, their isotopic niches were considerably narrower, suggesting a stronger dependence onAntarctic waters.Conclusions: The study thus suggests that Thin-billed prions show a high intraspecific plasticity in their use of eitherneritic or oceanic waters during the early breeding season. Breeding birds from the Falkland Islands can exploit anextensive shelf area, while Kerguelen birds have adapted to the need to forage in distant southern open waters. Thisdifference in foraging ecology may thus have shaped the phenology of the early breeding phase.
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Dates and versions

hal-02042580 , version 1 (24-05-2024)

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Petra Quillfeldt, Henri Weimerskirch, Juan Masello, Karine Delord, Rona Mcgill, et al.. Behavioural plasticity in the early breeding season of pelagic seabirds - a case study of thin-billed prions from two oceans. Movement Ecology, 2019, 7 (7), pp.1. ⟨10.1186/s40462-019-0147-7⟩. ⟨hal-02042580⟩
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