Assessing the importance of individual- and colony-level variation when using seabird foraging ranges as impact assessment and conservation tools

Cleasby, Ian R.; Owen, Ellie; Butler, Adam; Baer, Julia; Blackburn, Jez; Bogdanova, Maria I.; Coledale, Tessa; Daunt, Francis ORCID:; Dodd, Stephen; Evans, Julian C.; Green, Jonathan A.; Guilford, Tim; Harris, Mike P.; Hughes, Robert; Newell, Mark A.; Newton, Stephen F.; Robertson, Gail S.; Ruffino, Lise; Shoji, Akiko; Soanes, Louise M.; Votier, Stephen C.; Wakefield, Ewan D.; Wanless, Sarah; Wilson, Linda J.; Bolton, Mark. 2023 Assessing the importance of individual- and colony-level variation when using seabird foraging ranges as impact assessment and conservation tools. Ibis.

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Ibis - 2023 - Cleasby - Assessing the importance of individual‐ and colony‐level variation when using seabird foraging.pdf - Accepted Version
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Knowledge of seabird distributions plays a key role in seabird conservation and sustainable marine management, underpinning efforts to designate protected areas or assess the impact of human developments. Technological advances in animal tracking devices increasingly allow researchers to acquire information on the movement of birds from specific colonies. Nevertheless, most seabird colonies have not been subject to such tracking and another means must be found to assess their likely foraging distribution. Consequently, foraging range data collated and summarized across other tracking studies has often been used to estimate species-level foraging distances for use within applied settings. However, generic species-specific foraging ranges must be used with caution due to the amount of variation in seabird foraging behaviour at both the individual and colony level. Specifically, while current reviews of seabird foraging ranges provide summary estimates of maximum foraging range, they typically do not assess the extent of among-colony or among-individual variation around such estimates. To address this, we conducted a variance component analysis of the maximum distance reached from the breeding colony per foraging trip (foraging range) using multi-colony tracking datasets to estimate the degree of between-individual, between-year, and between-colony variation in foraging range in four UK breeding seabirds (Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, Common Guillemot Uria aalge, Razorbill Alca torda & European Shag Gulosus aristotelis). We also provide updated estimates of typical foraging ranges for each species and quantified the influence of breeding stage and colony size. Overall, between-colony variation was typically the largest variance component, explaining 20% - 30% of the observed variation in foraging range across the four species. Individual-level variation was also relatively large among Shags. In Kittiwake, Guillemot, and Shag, but not Razorbill, average foraging ranges were positively associated with colony size. In addition, Kittiwakes and Razorbills travelled further during incubation than chick rearing. More generally, our estimates of mean foraging ranges for each species were subject to a high degree of uncertainty, which should be incorporated into impact assessments carried out using such data.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0019-1019
Additional Keywords: between-group variation, GPS tracking, individual variation, marine conservation, movement ecology
NORA Subject Terms: Marine Sciences
Data and Information
Date made live: 10 Nov 2023 09:07 +0 (UTC)

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