Factors influencing prey capture success and profitability in Australasian gannets (Morus serrator)
journal contributionposted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by Thomas CansseThomas Cansse, Louarn Fauchet, Melanie Wells, John ArnouldJohn Arnould
Knowledge of the factors influencing foraging efficiency in top predators can provide insights into the effects of environmental variability on their populations. Seabirds are important marine predators foraging in a highly temporally and spatially variable environment. While numerous studies have focussed on search time and its effects on foraging energetics in seabirds, relatively little is known of the factors influencing capture success and prey profitability in these predators. In the present study, animal-borne cameras were used to investigate the chase durations, capture success, handling durations and profitability of prey consumed by Australasian gannets (Morus serrator) (n=95) from two breeding colonies in south-eastern Australia exposed to different oceanographic conditions. Capture success was generally lower when individuals foraged alone. However, foraging in multi-species groups and in high prey densities increased chase time, while larger prey elicited longer handling times. While prey type influenced profitability, high prey density and foraging in multispecies groups was found to lower prey profitability due to increased time expenditure. While previous studies have found group foraging reduces search time, the increased profitability explains why some animals may favour solitary foraging. Therefore future studies should combine search time and the currently found factors.