The diet of white-chinned petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis, Linnaeus 1758, in years of contrasting prey availability at South Georgia

The diet of breeding white-chinned petrels was studied during the summers of 1996 and 1998 at South Georgia. Krill abundance/availability was high throughout 1996 but apparently low at the beginning of the 1998 breeding season. The diet of white-chinned petrels was similar between years and consistent with previous studies. Krill Euphausia superba (41–42% by weight) was the single most important prey item followed by fish (39–29%) and squid (19–25%). Meal mass was consistent (110 g in 1996, 119 g in 1998) between years but a significant decrease (46%) in feeding frequency in 1998 (0.54 meals day−1 compared to 0.75 meals day−1 in 1996) resulted in 19% less food delivered to chicks in 1998 than in 1996. Breeding success, however, was consistent between years at 44% and similar to that recorded previously at Bird Island. This is in contrast to black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses, both of which experienced almost total breeding failure in 1998. It is suggested that their varied and versatile feeding methods, together with their greater diving ability, capacity to feed at night and extensive foraging range, help white-chinned petrels minimise the effects of krill shortage.


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Authors: Berrow, Simon D., Croxall, John P.

1 January, 1999
Antarctic Science / 11
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