Causes and consequences of individual variability and specialization in foraging and migration strategies of seabirds
Technological advances in recent years have seen an explosion of tracking and stable isotope studies of seabirds, often involving repeated measures from the same individuals. This wealth of new information has allowed the examination of the extensive variation among and within individuals in foraging and migration strategies (movements, habitat use, feeding behaviour, trophic status, etc.) in unprecedented detail. Variation is underpinned by key life-history or state variables such as sex, age, breeding stage and residual differences among individuals (termed ‘individual specialization’). This variation has major implications for our understanding of seabird ecology, because it affects the use of resources, level of intra-specific competition and niche partitioning. In addition, it determines the responses of individuals and populations to the environment and the susceptibility to major anthropogenic threats. Here we review the effects of season (breeding vs. nonbreeding periods), breeding stage, breeding status, age, sex and individual specialization on foraging and migration strategies, as well as the consequences for population dynamics and conservation.
Authors: Phillips, Richard A., Lewis, Sue, González-Solís, Jacob, Daunt, Francis