Individual seabirds show consistent foraging strategies in response to predictable fisheries discards

Samantha C. Patrick, Stuart Bearhop, Thomas W. Bodey, W. James Grecian, Keith C. Hamer, Janette Lee, Stephen C. Votier
  • Journal of Avian Biology, April 2015, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/jav.00660

Seabirds and Discards

What is it about?

Individual specialisation in diet and foraging behaviour has important implications for ecology, evolution and conservation. However, our understanding of how such behaviours emerge around resources from human activities are not fully understood. EU policy change means that fisheries discarding, where unwanted fish are thrown back into the water, often dead, will soon be banned. We know that huge numbers of seabirds forage on this food source, but whether this represents a generalist strategy by the whole population or a specialist strategy by subsections of the population is not well understood.

Why is it important?

Our findings demonstrate that some individuals consistently forage on these discards, whereas others rarely choose this strategy. In light of policy reforms, these results raise interesting questions surrounding how the birds which specialise on this food source will adapt.

The following have contributed to this page: Dr Samantha C Patrick