Data from: Migratory movements of Atlantic puffins Fratercula arctica naumanni from High Arctic Greenland
2021-06-01, Burnham, Kurt K., Burnham, Jennifer L., Johnson, Jeff A., Huffman, Abby
Although the Atlantic puffin Fratercula arctica is well studied throughout its temperate and low Arctic breeding range, few have studied the species in its far northern distribution. This study is the first to present data on the migratory movements of the "large-billed" subspecies, F. a. naumanni, that breeds in the high Arctic and which has significantly larger body size than those farther south. During 2013–2015, migration tracks were collected from nine adult puffins (6 males and 3 females) tagged with geolocators in northwest Greenland. Overall, female puffins traveled farther than males on their annual migration, with one female puffin traveling over 13,600 km, which was nearly a third farther than any tagged male in our study. Differential migration was observed in migratory phenology and route, with males using a form of chain migration with acute synchrony between individuals while females appeared to largely use leap-frog migration and showed little synchrony between individuals. Extreme sexual segregation in wintering areas was evidenced by two females that migrated to the southern limit of the species’ range while the six males remained at the northern limit, and wintered along the sea ice edge during portions of the non-breeding season. Male puffins thus wintered in regions with sea surface temperatures up to 10°C cooler than female puffins, and in areas with generally colder sea surface temperatures when compared to previously known wintering areas of temperate and low Arctic puffin breeding populations. The degree to which body size enables male F. a. naumanni to remain in colder waters likely reflects differing life history constraints between sexes and populations (i.e., subspecies). Further study is warranted to investigate how recent changes in climate have further exacerbated the observed differences between sexes in high Arctic puffins and possibly other marine avian species.