Contrasting strategies of provisioning and chick growth in two sympatrically breeding albatrosses at Campbell Island, New Zealand

The provisioning strategies of two closely related species of albatross breeding sympatrically were studied at Campbell Island, New Zealand. Black-browed Albatrosses (Diomedea melanophrys) had a higher provisioning rate of chicks than Grey-headed Albatrosses (D. chrysostomaa) as a result of a higher feeding frequency. Provisioning and satellite tracking data suggest that Black-browed Albatrosses forage over neritic waters in trips of up to 5 days, in combination with longer trips over oceanic waters. In contrast, it was not possible to separate clearly short and long trips in Grey-headed Albatrosses, but they probably forage mostly over oceanic waters, combined with rafting or feeding near the colony during stays of short duration at sea. No inter-annual differences in foraging trip duration were apparent between years for either species. Chicks were fed larger meals at older ages and when in poorer condition, probably due to a limitation on the rate of assimilation of food. For both species, chick condition after feeding did not influence the duration of foraging trips. Black-browed Albatrosses from Campbell Island feed locally in neritic waters and up to 2,000 km from the colony, in contrast to conspecifics from other sites which feed principally over neritic waters. Grey-headed Albatrosses were largely dependent on oceanic resources as for conspecifics studied elsewhere. This study shows that foraging and provisioning strategies are flexible within species, allowing them to exploit more or less distant resources.


Publication status:
Authors: Waugh, Susan M., Weimerskirch, Henri, Cherel, Yyes, Prince, Peter A.

1 January, 2000
The Condor / 102