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Foraging segregation of sympatric small petrels

Joan Navarro, May 21, 2013


We present a recent study describing the ecological mechanisms that explain the coexistence of four species of abundant, zooplanktivorous seabirds in Southern Ocean ecosystems (blue petrel Halobaena caerulea, Antarctic prion Pachyptila desolata, common diving petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix and South Georgian diving petrel P. georgicus). In particular, we combined information obtained from tracking devices (geolocator-immersion and time depth recorders), stable isotope analyses, and conventional morphometry. The results revealed a combination of horizontal, vertical and temporal foraging segregation between these four small petrels during the breeding season. The stable isotope and morphological analyses reinforced this conclusion, indicating that each species occupied a distinct trophic space, and that this appears to reflect adaptations in terms of flight performance.

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