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Foraging in a dynamic environment: Response of four sympatric sub-Antarctic albatross species to interannual environmental variability

Foraging in a dynamic environment: Response of four sympatric sub-Antarctic albatross species to interannual environmental variability
Foraging in a dynamic environment: Response of four sympatric sub-Antarctic albatross species to interannual environmental variability

Seasonal and annual climate variations are linked to fluctuations in the abundance and distribution of resources, posing a significant challenge to animals that need to adjust their foraging behavior accordingly. Particularly during adverse conditions, and while energetically constrained when breeding, animals ideally need to be flexible in their foraging behavior. Such behavioral plasticity may separate “winners” from “losers” in light of rapid environmental changes due to climate change. Here, the foraging behavior of four sub-Antarctic albatross species was investigated from 2015/16 to 2017/18, a period characterized by pronounced environmental variability. Over three breeding seasons on Marion Island, Prince Edward Archipelago, incubating wandering (WA, Diomedea exulans; n = 45), grey-headed (GHA, Thalassarche chrysostoma; n = 26), sooty (SA, Phoebetria fusca; n = 23), and light-mantled (LMSA, P. palpebrata; n = 22) albatrosses were tracked with GPS loggers. The response of birds to environmental variability was investigated by quantifying interannual changes in their foraging behavior along two axes: spatial distribution, using kernel density analysis, and foraging habitat preference, using generalized additive mixed models and Bayesian mixed models. All four species were shown to respond behaviorally to environmental variability, but with substantial differences in their foraging strategies. WA was most general in its habitat use defined by sea surface height, eddy kinetic energy, wind speed, ocean floor slope, and sea-level anomaly, with individuals foraging in a range of habitats. In contrast, the three smaller albatrosses exploited two main foraging habitats, with habitat use varying between years. Generalist habitat use by WA and interannually variable use of habitats by GHA, SA, and LMSA would likely offer these species some resilience to predicted changes in climate such as warming seas and strengthening of westerly winds. However, future investigations need to consider other life-history stages coupled with demographic studies, to better understand the link between behavioral plasticity and population responses.

behavioral plasticity, biologging, central place foragers, marine predators, resilience, Southern Annual Mode
2045-7758
11277-11295
Carpenter-Kling, Tegan
1d35fc56-1e0f-4d27-ab94-41bd2b876a91
Reisinger, Ryan R.
4eaf9440-48e5-41fa-853f-d46457e5444e
Orgeret, Florian
32651520-5ba1-405e-8212-488cfa4a711e
Connan, Maëlle
96e55fc2-588e-47ef-87d2-ae8c9a09e529
Stevens, Kim L.
acff965d-6cf5-45eb-ac11-a90457dc148f
Ryan, Peter G.
d05dcd3b-9d90-423d-8a62-d7850a2e3386
Makhado, Azwianewi
33039c27-9987-4b7a-b95a-3745db700c14
Pistorius, Pierre A.
5a585272-2721-45dd-9384-56a05a477b36
Carpenter-Kling, Tegan
1d35fc56-1e0f-4d27-ab94-41bd2b876a91
Reisinger, Ryan R.
4eaf9440-48e5-41fa-853f-d46457e5444e
Orgeret, Florian
32651520-5ba1-405e-8212-488cfa4a711e
Connan, Maëlle
96e55fc2-588e-47ef-87d2-ae8c9a09e529
Stevens, Kim L.
acff965d-6cf5-45eb-ac11-a90457dc148f
Ryan, Peter G.
d05dcd3b-9d90-423d-8a62-d7850a2e3386
Makhado, Azwianewi
33039c27-9987-4b7a-b95a-3745db700c14
Pistorius, Pierre A.
5a585272-2721-45dd-9384-56a05a477b36

Carpenter-Kling, Tegan, Reisinger, Ryan R., Orgeret, Florian, Connan, Maëlle, Stevens, Kim L., Ryan, Peter G., Makhado, Azwianewi and Pistorius, Pierre A. (2020) Foraging in a dynamic environment: Response of four sympatric sub-Antarctic albatross species to interannual environmental variability. Ecology and Evolution, 10 (20), 11277-11295. (doi:10.1002/ece3.6766).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Seasonal and annual climate variations are linked to fluctuations in the abundance and distribution of resources, posing a significant challenge to animals that need to adjust their foraging behavior accordingly. Particularly during adverse conditions, and while energetically constrained when breeding, animals ideally need to be flexible in their foraging behavior. Such behavioral plasticity may separate “winners” from “losers” in light of rapid environmental changes due to climate change. Here, the foraging behavior of four sub-Antarctic albatross species was investigated from 2015/16 to 2017/18, a period characterized by pronounced environmental variability. Over three breeding seasons on Marion Island, Prince Edward Archipelago, incubating wandering (WA, Diomedea exulans; n = 45), grey-headed (GHA, Thalassarche chrysostoma; n = 26), sooty (SA, Phoebetria fusca; n = 23), and light-mantled (LMSA, P. palpebrata; n = 22) albatrosses were tracked with GPS loggers. The response of birds to environmental variability was investigated by quantifying interannual changes in their foraging behavior along two axes: spatial distribution, using kernel density analysis, and foraging habitat preference, using generalized additive mixed models and Bayesian mixed models. All four species were shown to respond behaviorally to environmental variability, but with substantial differences in their foraging strategies. WA was most general in its habitat use defined by sea surface height, eddy kinetic energy, wind speed, ocean floor slope, and sea-level anomaly, with individuals foraging in a range of habitats. In contrast, the three smaller albatrosses exploited two main foraging habitats, with habitat use varying between years. Generalist habitat use by WA and interannually variable use of habitats by GHA, SA, and LMSA would likely offer these species some resilience to predicted changes in climate such as warming seas and strengthening of westerly winds. However, future investigations need to consider other life-history stages coupled with demographic studies, to better understand the link between behavioral plasticity and population responses.

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Published date: 1 October 2020
Additional Information: Funding Information: We thank all field personnel who spent many long hours assisting with the deployment of GPS dataloggers. A special mention goes to Stefan Schoombie, Janine Schoombie, Jessie Berndt, Albert Snyman, Makhudu Masotla and David Green without whose dedication and excellent fieldwork this study would not have been possible. Research on Marion Island is made possible through the logistical support from South Africa's Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries. Financial support was received from the South Africa's National Research Foundation (NRF), through its South African National Antarctic Programme, as a grant to Pierre Pistorius (grant number SNA093071) and Ryan Reisinger was the recipient of a NRF postdoctoral grant (SANCOR grant 94916). We thank the associate editor and reviewers for their comments. Funding Information: We thank all field personnel who spent many long hours assisting with the deployment of GPS dataloggers. A special mention goes to Stefan Schoombie, Janine Schoombie, Jessie Berndt, Albert Snyman, Makhudu Masotla and David Green without whose dedication and excellent fieldwork this study would not have been possible. Research on Marion Island is made possible through the logistical support from South Africa's Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries. Financial support was received from the South Africa's National Research Foundation (NRF), through its South African National Antarctic Programme, as a grant to Pierre Pistorius (grant number SNA093071) and Ryan Reisinger was the recipient of a NRF postdoctoral grant (SANCOR grant 94916). We thank the associate editor and reviewers for their comments. Publisher Copyright: © 2020 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copyright: Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
Keywords: behavioral plasticity, biologging, central place foragers, marine predators, resilience, Southern Annual Mode

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Local EPrints ID: 455502
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/455502
ISSN: 2045-7758
PURE UUID: 5d16fafb-7273-4af6-9722-89cb443abee2
ORCID for Ryan R. Reisinger: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8933-6875

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Date deposited: 23 Mar 2022 17:42
Last modified: 03 Sep 2022 02:10

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Contributors

Author: Tegan Carpenter-Kling
Author: Florian Orgeret
Author: Maëlle Connan
Author: Kim L. Stevens
Author: Peter G. Ryan
Author: Azwianewi Makhado
Author: Pierre A. Pistorius

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