Evidence of sociality in the timing and location of foraging in a colonial seabird
journal contributionposted on 2018-07-01, 00:00 authored by Teri B Jones, Samantha C Patrick, John ArnouldJohn Arnould, Marlenne A Rodríguez-Malagón, Melanie Rose Wells, Jonathan A Green
Social foraging behaviours, which range from cooperative hunting to local enhancement, can result in increased prey capture and access to information, which may significantly reduce time and energy costs of acquiring prey. In colonial species, it has been proposed that the colony itself may act as a site of social information transfer and group formation. However, conclusive evidence from empirical studies is lacking. In particular, most studies in colonial species have generally focussed on behaviours either at the colony or at foraging sites in isolation, and have failed to directly connect social associations at the colony to social foraging. In this study, we simultaneously tracked 85% of a population of Australasian gannets (Morus serrator) over multiple foraging trips, to study social associations at the colony and test whether these associations influence the location of foraging sites. We found that gannets positively associate with conspecifics while departing from the colony and that co-departing gannets have more similar initial foraging patches than individuals that did not associate at the colony. These results provide strong evidence for the theory that the colony may provide a source of information that influences foraging location.