Escaping the oligotrophic gyre? The year-round movements, foraging behaviour and habitat preferences of Murphy’s petrels
Marine Ecology - Progress Series
Inter-Research Science Publishing
MetadataShow full item record
Clay, T., Phillips, R., Manica, A., Jackson, H., & Brooke, M. (2017). Escaping the oligotrophic gyre? The year-round movements, foraging behaviour and habitat preferences of Murphy’s petrels. Marine Ecology - Progress Series, 579 139-155. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12244
The South Pacific Gyre is the world’s largest expanse of oligotrophic ocean and supports communities of endemic gadfly petrels Pterodroma spp, yet little is known about their foraging ecology in this nutrient-poor environment. We tracked Murphy’s petrels Pterodroma ultima with geolocators from Henderson Island, Pitcairn Islands, for two consecutive years (2011 - 2013). During pre-laying exodus, petrels travelled south and southwest of the colony, with males travelling further than females to more productive waters. During incubation, birds foraged at the southern and eastern edges of the Gyre, with some travelling over 4,800 km from the colony, the greatest recorded foraging range of any breeding seabird. During non-breeding, the petrels migrated to the Subarctic Gyre in the North Pacific to forage in cool, mesotrophic waters. Habitat models revealed that birds do not have clear preferences for oceanographic (such as fronts or eddies) or topographic features (seamounts), generally favouring deep and unproductive waters. Analyses of activity patterns indicated Murphy’s petrels are amongst the most active of all seabirds, particularly during incubation when they spent c.95% of their time at sea in flight. The birds did not appear to forage during darkness, but flight activity peaked at dawn, particularly during non-breeding, suggesting they feed on mesopelagic prey that are diel vertical migrants. At-sea protection for such a wide-ranging species would require management at huge spatial scales, and hence in the short term, the principal focus for conservation should be on eliminating the immediate threat from invasive mammals at breeding sites.
subropical gyre, gadfly petrel, pelagic ecosystem, trans-equatorial migration, sexual segregation, seabird, activity patterns, biologging
T.A.C. was supported by a studentship funded as part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Standard Grant NE/J021083/1. This study represents a contribution to the Ecosystems component of the British Antarctic Survey Polar Science for Planet Earth Programme, funded by NERC.
Embargo Lift Date
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12244
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/265256
Attribution 4.0 International, Attribution 4.0 International, Attribution 4.0 International, Attribution 4.0 International