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, Dodd, Stephen, Evans, Julian C
et al (show 15 more authors) (2024) Assessing the importance of individual‐ and colony‐level variation when using seabird foraging ranges as impact assessment and conservation tools. Ibis, 166 (3). pp. 871-895.

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<jats:p>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 because of the amount of variation in seabird foraging behaviour at both the individual and colony levels. Specifically, although 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 <jats:italic>Rissa tridactyla</jats:italic>, Common Guillemot <jats:italic>Uria aalge</jats:italic>, Razorbill <jats:italic>Alca torda</jats:italic> and European Shag <jats:italic>Gulosus aristotelis</jats:italic>). We also provide updated estimates of typical foraging ranges for each species and quantify 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 Shag. In Kittiwake, Guillemot and Shag, but not Razorbill, average foraging ranges were positively associated with colony size. In addition, Kittiwake and Razorbill travelled further during incubation than during 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.</jats:p>

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 3109 Zoology, 3103 Ecology, 31 Biological Sciences, 15 Life on Land
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2023 09:27
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2024 02:37
DOI: 10.1111/ibi.13284
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