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d'Entremont, Kyle J.N.

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d'Entremont
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Kyle J.N.
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Data from: Study "Northern Gannet Breeding Season GPS Data from Cape St. Mary's, NL, Canada: 2019 to 2022"

2023-05-01, d'Entremont, Kyle J.N., Davoren, Gail K., Montevecchi, William A.

Seabirds are constrained by central-place foraging during breeding, when the energy obtained from prey must outweigh the costs of travel, search, capture and transport. The distribution and phenology of the cold-blooded marine fishes they exploit are heavily influenced by oceanic climate. Northern gannets, the largest breeding seabird in the North Atlantic, use a generalist foraging strategy, preying on a wide array of pelagic fishes. They employ different for- aging tactics for different prey types, with rapid, shallow V-shaped dives used for large, powerful prey such as mackerel, and U-shaped dives for smaller forage fishes like capelin. Here we assess intra- and inter-annual differences in foraging effort and influences of prey availability at the southernmost colony of the species at Cape St. Mary’s, Newfoundland, Canada. We compared for- aging trip characteristics (total and maximum distance, directness, duration and number of dives) of parental gannets during the breeding seasons of 2019 (n = 10) and 2020 (n = 7) using GPS/time- depth recorders. Individual gannets shifted away from using U-shaped dives in early chick- rearing to primarily V-shaped dives in late chick-rearing. Shifts were abrupt and occurred in mid-August in 2019 and 2020. Maximum and total foraging trip distance and duration were sig- nificantly greater during early chick-rearing in 2020 than in 2019. Kernel density 50% utilization distributions were larger and expanded further from the colony during early chick-rearing in 2020 (7297 ± 1419 km2; mean ± SE) than 2019 (2382 ±797 km2). Increased foraging effort during early chick-rearing in 2020 was likely due to decreased capelin availability, resulting from earlier spawning, and greater variation in the timing of spawning among sites, which may have been influenced by warmer waters.