Individual migration strategy fidelity but no habitat specialization in two congeneric seabirds

Merkel, Benjamin; Descamps, Sébastien; Yoccoz, Nigel G.; Grémillet, David; Daunt, Francis ORCID:; Erikstad, Kjell E.; Ezhov, Aleksey V.; Harris, Mike P.; Gavrilo, Maria; Lorentsen, Svein‐Håkon; Reiertsen, Tone K.; Steen, Harald; Systad, Geir H.; Þórarinsson, Þorkell Lindberg; Wanless, Sarah; Strøm, Hallvard. 2021 Individual migration strategy fidelity but no habitat specialization in two congeneric seabirds. Journal of Biogeography, 48 (2). 263-275.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N529282JA.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Aim: In migratory species, individuals often use fixed and individual‐specific migration strategies, which we term individual migration strategy fidelity (IMSF). Our goal was to test if guillemots have flexible or fixed individual migration strategies (i.e. IMSF), if this behaviour is consistent across large parts of the genus’ range and if they were philopatric to geographical sites or a habitat feature. Location: North Atlantic. Taxon: Uria spp. Methods: We quantified consistent individual differences in inter‐annual spatial distribution and habitat occupied throughout the non‐breeding period using a large geolocator tracking dataset of 729 adult seabirds breeding at 13 colonies across the Northeast Atlantic and repeatedly tracked up to 7 years over a 9‐year period. Additionally, we used a similarity index to calculate relative fidelity to either geographical sites or habitats and linear mixed‐effects models to assess persistence of spatial site fidelity over multiple years. Results: Both guillemot species exhibited IMSF across a large part of the genus’ range which persisted over multiple years. Individuals of both species and almost all colonies showed fidelity to geographical sites and not to specific habitats. Main conclusions: Guillemots show IMSF that is best explained by site familiarity (fidelity to specific sites) rather than habitat specialization (fidelity to specific habitats). In the context of rapidly changing environments, favourable habitats may permanently shift locations and hence species displaying IMSF driven by site familiarity—such as the genus Uria—may not be able to adjust their migration strategies sufficiently fast to sustain individual fitness and ensure population persistence.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 0305-0270
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: guillemots, light-level geolocation, murres, Uria aalge, Uria lomvia
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 27 Dec 2020 02:33 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...