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Year-round distribution, activity patterns and habitat use of a poorly studied pelagic seabird, the fluttering shearwater Puffinus gavia

Berg, Martin (2016) BIOP01 20161
Degree Projects in Biology
Abstract
We present the first study of the year-round distribution, activity patterns, and habitat use of one of New Zealand’s most common seabirds, the fluttering shearwater (Puffinus gavia). Seven individuals from Burgess Island and one individual from Long Island were successfully tracked with combined light-saltwater immersion loggers for one to three years. Our tracking data confirms that fluttering shearwaters employ different overwintering dispersal strategies, where three out of eight individuals, for at least one of the three years that they were being tracked, crossed the Tasman Sea to forage over coastal waters along eastern Tasmania and southeastern Australia. Resident birds stayed confined to productive waters of northern and central... (More)
We present the first study of the year-round distribution, activity patterns, and habitat use of one of New Zealand’s most common seabirds, the fluttering shearwater (Puffinus gavia). Seven individuals from Burgess Island and one individual from Long Island were successfully tracked with combined light-saltwater immersion loggers for one to three years. Our tracking data confirms that fluttering shearwaters employ different overwintering dispersal strategies, where three out of eight individuals, for at least one of the three years that they were being tracked, crossed the Tasman Sea to forage over coastal waters along eastern Tasmania and southeastern Australia. Resident birds stayed confined to productive waters of northern and central New Zealand year-round. Although birds frequently foraged over pelagic shelf waters, the majority of tracking locations were found over shallow waters close to the coast. All birds foraged predominantly in daylight and frequently visited the colony at night throughout the year. We found no significant inter-seasonal differences in the activity patterns, or between migratory and resident individuals. Although further studies of intercolony variation in different age groups will be necessary, this study provides novel insights into dispersal and foraging ecology of the fluttering shearwater, which provide important baseline information for conservation as well as for further ecological studies. (Less)
Popular Abstract
What is life at sea like for a fluttering shearwater?

The fluttering shearwater is one of New Zealand’s most common seabirds. Yet their migration and behaviour at sea have until recently remained unknown. In this study we went to Long Island in the Marlborough Sounds and Burgess Island in the Hauraki Gulf to find out more about the migration and movement behaviour of these birds.

Seabirds are more threatened than any other group of birds. A major cause of this decline comes from threats at sea, such as fisheries interactions where seabirds get entangled in drift nets and caught by hooks when diving into the water for fish. For this reason, it is important to find out in which areas they spend substantial amounts of time and to... (More)
What is life at sea like for a fluttering shearwater?

The fluttering shearwater is one of New Zealand’s most common seabirds. Yet their migration and behaviour at sea have until recently remained unknown. In this study we went to Long Island in the Marlborough Sounds and Burgess Island in the Hauraki Gulf to find out more about the migration and movement behaviour of these birds.

Seabirds are more threatened than any other group of birds. A major cause of this decline comes from threats at sea, such as fisheries interactions where seabirds get entangled in drift nets and caught by hooks when diving into the water for fish. For this reason, it is important to find out in which areas they spend substantial amounts of time and to understand to which extent their distribution overlap with fisheries interactions.

In this study we used miniaturised tracking devices to find out more about the migration and behaviour of fluttering shearwaters out at sea. These geolocators weigh approximately 2.5 g each, which correspond to less than one percent of the total body weight of a fluttering shearwater. Our tracking data showed that fluttering shearwaters have different overwintering dispersal strategies, where three out of eight birds, for at least one of the three years they were tracked crossed the Tasman Sea to forage over rich waters along the coast of Australia. Resident birds stayed over shallow waters of northern and central New Zealand year-round. Although birds frequently foraged over oceanic waters far from land, the majority of tracking locations were found over sheltered waters along the coast. All birds foraged in daylight and regularly visited the colony at night throughout the year.

Although further studies of inter-colony variation in different age groups will be important, this study gives the first insights into dispersal and foraging ecology of the fluttering shearwater, which is important baseline information for conservation as well as for future research.

Supervisors: Jannie Linnebjerg, Department of biology, Lund University,Stefanie Ismar, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research and Matt Rayner, Department of biology, Auckland University
Master´s Degree Project 60 credits in Biology, 2016
Lund University (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Berg, Martin
supervisor
organization
course
BIOP01 20161
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
8896413
date added to LUP
2016-12-27 15:20:19
date last changed
2016-12-27 15:20:19
@misc{8896413,
  abstract     = {We present the first study of the year-round distribution, activity patterns, and habitat use of one of New Zealand’s most common seabirds, the fluttering shearwater (Puffinus gavia). Seven individuals from Burgess Island and one individual from Long Island were successfully tracked with combined light-saltwater immersion loggers for one to three years. Our tracking data confirms that fluttering shearwaters employ different overwintering dispersal strategies, where three out of eight individuals, for at least one of the three years that they were being tracked, crossed the Tasman Sea to forage over coastal waters along eastern Tasmania and southeastern Australia. Resident birds stayed confined to productive waters of northern and central New Zealand year-round. Although birds frequently foraged over pelagic shelf waters, the majority of tracking locations were found over shallow waters close to the coast. All birds foraged predominantly in daylight and frequently visited the colony at night throughout the year. We found no significant inter-seasonal differences in the activity patterns, or between migratory and resident individuals. Although further studies of intercolony variation in different age groups will be necessary, this study provides novel insights into dispersal and foraging ecology of the fluttering shearwater, which provide important baseline information for conservation as well as for further ecological studies.},
  author       = {Berg, Martin},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Year-round distribution, activity patterns and habitat use of a poorly studied pelagic seabird, the fluttering shearwater Puffinus gavia},
  year         = {2016},
}