Six pelagic seabird species of the North Atlantic engage in a fly-and-forage strategy during their migratory movements

Amélineau, F.; Merkel, B.; Tarroux, A.; Descamps, S.; Anker-Nilssen, T.; Bjørnstad, O.; Bråthen, V.S.; Chastel, O.; Christensen-Dalsgaard, S.; Danielsen, J.; Daunt, F. ORCID:; Dehnhard, N.; Ekker, M.; Erikstad, K.E.; Ezhov, A.; Fauchald, P.; Gavrilo, M.; Hallgrimsson, G.T.; Hansen, E.S.; Harris, M.P.; Helberg, M.; Helgason, H.H.; Johansen, M.K.; Jónsson, J.E.; Kolbeinsson, Y.; Krasnov, Y.; Langset, M.; Lorentsen, S.H.; Lorentzen, E.; Melnikov, M.V.; Moe, B.; Newell, M.A.; Olsen, B.; Reiertsen, T.; Systad, G.H.; Thompson, P.; Thórarinsson, T.L.; Tolmacheva, E.; Wanless, S.; Wojczulanis-Jakubas, K.; Åström, J.; Strøm, H.. 2021 Six pelagic seabird species of the North Atlantic engage in a fly-and-forage strategy during their migratory movements. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 676. 127-144.

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Bird migration is commonly defined as a seasonal movement between breeding and non-breeding grounds. It generally involves relatively straight and directed large-scale movements, with a latitudinal change, and specific daily activity patterns comprising less or no foraging and more traveling time. Our main objective was to describe how this general definition applies to seabirds. We investigated migration characteristics of 6 pelagic seabird species (little auk Alle alle, Atlantic puffin Fratercula arctica, common guillemot Uria aalge, Brünnich’s guillemot U. lomvia, black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla and northern fulmars Fulmarus glacialis). We analysed an extensive geolocator positional and saltwater immersion dataset from 29 colonies in the North-East Atlantic and across several years (2008-2019). We used a novel method to identify active migration periods based on segmentation of time series of track characteristics (latitude, longitude, net-squared displacement). Additionally, we used the saltwater immersion data of geolocators to infer bird activity. We found that the 6 species had, on average, 3 to 4 migration periods and 2 to 3 distinct stationary areas during the non-breeding season. On average, seabirds spent the winter at lower latitudes than their breeding colonies and followed specific migration routes rather than non-directionally dispersing from their colonies. Differences in daily activity patterns were small between migratory and stationary periods, suggesting that all species continued to forage and rest while migrating, engaging in a ‘fly-and-forage’ migratory strategy. We thereby demonstrate the importance of habitats visited during seabird migrations as those that are not just flown over, but which may be important for re-fuelling.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 0171-8630
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: light-level geolocation, non-breeding movements, migration strategies, dovekies, common murres, thick-billed murres
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 01 Nov 2021 16:30 +0 (UTC)

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