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Trophic niches of a seabird assemblage in Bass Strait, south-eastern Australia

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by Aymeric Fromant, Nicole Schumann, P Dann, Y Cherel, John ArnouldJohn Arnould
The foraging niches of seabirds are driven by a variety of factors, including competition for prey that promotes divergence in trophic niches. Bass Strait, south-eastern Australia, is a key region for seabirds, with little penguins Eudyptula minor, shorttailed shearwaters Ardenna tenuirostris, fairy prions Pachyptila turtur and common diving-petrels Pelecanoides urinatrix being particularly abundant in the region. The trophic niches of these species were investigated using isotopic values in whole blood and by identifying prey remains in stomach contents. The four species occupied different isotopic niches that varied among years, seasons and regions. Little penguins consumed mainly fish whereas the three procellariforms primarily consumed coastal krill Nyctiphanes australis. The dietary similarities between the procellariforms suggest that food resources are segregated in other ways, with interspecific differences in isotope niches possibly reflecting differential consumption of key prey, divergent foraging locations and depth, and differences in breeding phenology. Because oceanographic changes predicted to occur due to climate change may result in reduced coastal krill availability, adversely affecting these seabird predators, further information on foraging zones and feeding behaviour of small procellariform species is needed to elucidate more fully the segregation of foraging niches, the capacity of seabirds to adapt to climate change and the potential for interspecific competition in the region.

History

Journal

PeerJ

Volume

8

Article number

e8700

Pagination

1 - 27

Publisher

PeerJ

Location

London, Eng.

eISSN

2167-8359

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal