A year in the life of a North Atlantic seabird : behavioural and energetic adjustments during the annual cycle

Dunn, Ruth and Wanless, Sarah and Daunt, Francis and Harris, Michael P. and Green, Jonathan A. (2020) A year in the life of a North Atlantic seabird : behavioural and energetic adjustments during the annual cycle. Scientific Reports, 10: 5993. ISSN 2045-2322

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During their annual cycles, animals face a series of energetic challenges as they prioritise different life history events by engaging in temporally and potentially spatially segregated reproductive and non-breeding periods. Investigating behaviour and energy use across these periods is fundamental to understanding how animals survive the changing conditions associated with annual cycles. We estimated year-round activity budgets, energy expenditure, location, colony attendance and foraging behaviour for surviving individuals from a population of common guillemots Uria aalge. Despite the potential constraints of reduced day lengths and sea surface temperatures in winter, guillemots managed their energy expenditure throughout the year. Values were high prior to and during the breeding season, driven by a combination of high thermoregulatory costs, diving activity, colony attendance and associated flight. Guillemots also exhibited partial colony attendance outside the breeding season, likely supported by local resources. Additionally, there was a mismatch in the timing of peaks in dive effort and a peak in nocturnal foraging activity, indicating that guillemots adapted their foraging behaviour to the availability of prey rather than daylight. Our study identifies adaptations in foraging behaviour and flexibility in activity budgets as mechanisms that enable guillemots to manage their energy expenditure and survive the annual cycle.

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Journal Article
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Scientific Reports
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Deposited On:
20 Sep 2021 09:45
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 21:57