Analysis of fatty acids and fatty alcohols reveals seasonal and sex-specific changes in the diets of seabirds

Owen, Ellie; Daunt, Francis; Moffat, Colin; Elston, David A.; Wanless, Sarah; Thompson, Paul. 2013 Analysis of fatty acids and fatty alcohols reveals seasonal and sex-specific changes in the diets of seabirds. Marine Biology, 160 (4). 987-999.

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A key challenge in ecology is to find ways to obtain complete and accurate information about the diets of animals. Traditional methods of collecting such information from seabirds (usually stomach content analysis or observations of prey at nests) are hampered by biases and only give information from the immediate time of sampling. Furthermore, the period of investigation using traditional methods is often restricted to the few short months of breeding. Here, we use an analysis of fatty acids and fatty alcohols from blood, adipose tissue and stomach oil to investigate how the diets of male and female common guillemots (Uria aalge), black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), and northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) differed through the sampling period (prelaying and breeding season) and by sex. Diets of both sexes of all three species generally varied across the season, but sex differences were apparent only in fulmars during prelaying. Our study shows that FA analysis can provide significant insights into diets of seabirds, in particular periods of the annual cycle which are not readily studied using traditional methods.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity > BD - 1.4 - Quantify and model interactions to determine impacts ...
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Watt
ISSN: 0025-3162
NORA Subject Terms: Marine Sciences
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 13 Jun 2013 15:02 +0 (UTC)

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