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Individuality of foraging behaviour in a short-ranging benthic marine predator: Incidence and implications

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Chris RedfernORCiD, Dr Richard BevanORCiD


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© Inter-Research 2019. Individual foraging site fidelity (IFSF) has been documented in a wide range of species, but few studies have examined the incidence or implications of variation among individuals in levels of fidelity, especially among short-ranging species where costs of travel place fewer constraints on exploring alternative foraging sites. Using combined GPS and dive data for 560 trips by 70 birds, we quantified the repeatability of foraging behaviour including IFSF in a short-ranging, mainly benthic predator, the European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis, across 3 consecutive breeding seasons at a colony in NE England. There was significant repeatability in a wide range of foraging trip parameters, with highest consistency in those related to foraging location and maximum dive depth, and lowest consistency in those related to trip duration and time spent in different activities. Birds also had high IFSF overall but there was marked variation among individuals in this respect: some were highly consistent in the locations visited over multiple years whereas others frequently changed their foraging locations between successive trips. IFSF was typically higher from one year to the next than within a single year, with most birds retaining similar levels of consistency from year to year. Females with higher IFSF during chick-rearing were in better condition than birds with lower consistency and had earlier hatching dates. These data strongly suggest IFSF may be beneficial even in short-ranging species, at least in benthic feeders where prior knowledge and experience of particular habitat patches and associated prey capture techniques may be advantageous.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Morgan EA, Hassall C, Redfern CPF, Bevan RM, Hamer KC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine Ecology Progress Series

Year: 2019

Volume: 609

Pages: 209-219

Online publication date: 17/01/2019

Acceptance date: 05/11/2018

ISSN (print): 0171-8630

ISSN (electronic): 1616-1599

Publisher: Inter-Research


DOI: 10.3354/meps12819


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