Central place foraging by breeding Cook’s petrel Pterodroma cookii: foraging duration reflects range, diet and chick meal mass
Pelagic seabirds are central place foragers during breeding and variation in foraging trip duration and range reflect differences in diet and chick provisioning, through the exploitation of divergent habitats of varying productivity. We tested whether these relationships hold in small procellarriids by equipping chick-rearing Cook's petrel Pterodroma cookii (200 g) with geolocation-immersion loggers, conducting isotope analysis of blood and measuring chick meal mass following foraging trips of varying duration. Cook's petrel tracked during chick rearing from Little Barrier Island (LBI) and Codfish Island (CDF), New Zealand had larger maximum ranges during longer foraging trips. Blood nitrogen isotope signatures (delta(15)N) of adults were significantly higher after foraging trips of longer duration, but not of greater maximum range. There was no significant relationship between blood carbon isotope signatures (delta(13)C) and foraging trip characteristics. Proportion of time spent on the sea surface and the mass of the meal brought back to chicks were consistently greater for Cook's petrel with larger maximum ranges, which in the case of birds from CDF coincided with productive subtropical convergence zone habitats. As predicted, trip duration reflected divergent foraging behaviours in Cook's petrel during breeding. We suggest that the availability of different prey is a key factor governing at-sea distributions and dietary composition of this species.
Authors: Rayner, M.J., Hartill, B.W., Hauber, M.E., Phillips, Richard A.