Frequency and consequences of individual dietary specialisation in a wide-ranging marine predator, the northern gannet

Bodey, T. W., Cleasby, I. R., Votier, S. C., Hamer, K. C., Newton, J. , Patrick, S. C., Wakefield, E. D. and Bearhop, S. (2018) Frequency and consequences of individual dietary specialisation in a wide-ranging marine predator, the northern gannet. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 604, pp. 251-262. (doi:10.3354/meps12729)

Bodey, T. W., Cleasby, I. R., Votier, S. C., Hamer, K. C., Newton, J. , Patrick, S. C., Wakefield, E. D. and Bearhop, S. (2018) Frequency and consequences of individual dietary specialisation in a wide-ranging marine predator, the northern gannet. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 604, pp. 251-262. (doi:10.3354/meps12729)

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Abstract

Individual specialisations in animals are important contributors to a wide range of ecological and evolutionary processes, and have been particularly documented in relation to multiple aspects of foraging behaviours. Central-place foragers, such as seabirds, frequently exhibit pronounced specialisations and individual differences in a variety of foraging traits. In particular, the availability of fisheries discards alongside natural prey resources provides additional potential for differentiation and specialisation for opportunistically scavenging seabird species. However, the consequences of such specialisations for at-sea distributions and intra-specific interactions are not well known. Here we investigate the links between the degree of dietary specialisation on natural or discard prey and the foraging movements and spatial occupancy of Northern Gannets Morus bassanus, in relation to differing intraspecific competition at six differently sized colonies. We found that, at most colonies, individuals with different dietary strategies concentrated foraging at differing levels of intraspecific competition. In addition, individuals pursuing different strategies were frequently, but not consistently, spatially separated, distinctions that were most acutely seen in females. However, this variation in individual strategy had no significant impact on current body condition. These analyses demonstrate how foraging-associated metrics need not covary within an unconstrained system. They also reveal that specialisation can have important consequences for the competitive regimes individuals experience, highlighting the complexity of examining interacting consequences at large spatial scales.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This study was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (Standard Grant NE/H007466/1).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wakefield, Dr Ewan and Newton, Dr Jason
Authors: Bodey, T. W., Cleasby, I. R., Votier, S. C., Hamer, K. C., Newton, J., Patrick, S. C., Wakefield, E. D., and Bearhop, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Marine Ecology Progress Series
Publisher:Inter Research
ISSN:0171-8630
ISSN (Online):1616-1599

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