Institute for Seabird Research and Conservation

Anchorage, AK, United States

Institute for Seabird Research and Conservation

Anchorage, AK, United States
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Merkling T.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Merkling T.,Australian National University | Welcker J.,Norwegian Polar Institute | Welcker J.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | And 8 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology | Year: 2015

Sex allocation theory predicts that parents should bias offspring sex according to the costs and benefits associated with producing either sex in a given context. Accurately interpreting sex-ratio biases, therefore, requires a precise identification of these selective pressures. However, such information is generally lacking. This may partly explain the inconsistency in reported sex allocation patterns, especially in vertebrates. We present data from a long-term feeding experiment in black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) that allowed us to increase investment capacity for some breeding pairs. Previous findings showed that these pairs then overproduced sons compared with control parents. Here, our aim was to test the underlying assumptions of the 2 appropriate sex allocation models for our context: the "cost of reproduction hypothesis" and the "Trivers-Willard hypothesis." The former assumes a sex difference in rearing costs, whereas the latter assumes a difference in fitness returns. 1) Independent of feeding treatment, rearing sons was energetically more demanding for parents (as revealed by higher energy expenditure and higher baseline corticosterone levels) than rearing daughters, thereby corroborating the underlying assumption of the "cost of reproduction hypothesis." 2) Evidence supporting the assumptions of the "Trivers-Willard hypothesis" was less convincing. Overall, our results suggest that drivers of parental sex allocation decisions are probably more related to offspring sex-specific energetic costs than to their future reproductive success in our study species. Assessing the adaptive value of sex-ratio biases requires precise investigation of the assumptions underlying theoretical models, particularly as long as the mechanisms involved in sex-ratio manipulation remain largely unknown. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology.


PubMed | Institute for Seabird Research and Conservation, CAS Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, University of Victoria, Carleton University and 3 more.
Type: | Journal: Movement ecology | Year: 2015

Windscapes affect energy costs for flying animals, but animals can adjust their behavior to accommodate wind-induced energy costs. Theory predicts that flying animals should decrease air speed to compensate for increased tailwind speed and increase air speed to compensate for increased crosswind speed. In addition, animals are expected to vary their foraging effort in time and space to maximize energy efficiency across variable windscapes.We examined the influence of wind on seabird (thick-billed murre Uria lomvia and black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla) foraging behavior. Airspeed and mechanical flight costs (dynamic body acceleration and wing beat frequency) increased with headwind speed during commuting flights. As predicted, birds adjusted their airspeed to compensate for crosswinds and to reduce the effect of a headwind, but they could not completely compensate for the latter. As we were able to account for the effect of sampling frequency and wind speed, we accurately estimated commuting flight speed with no wind as 16.6ms(?1) (murres) and 10.6ms(?1) (kittiwakes). High winds decreased delivery rates of schooling fish (murres), energy (murres) and food (kittiwakes) but did not impact daily energy expenditure or chick growth rates. During high winds, murres switched from feeding their offspring with schooling fish, which required substantial above-water searching, to amphipods, which required less above-water searching.Adults buffered the adverse effect of high winds on chick growth rates by switching to other food sources during windy days or increasing food delivery rates when weather improved.


Abbott C.L.,Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Center | Millikin R.L.,Environment Canada | Hipfner M.J.,Environment Canada | Hatch S.,Institute for Seabird Research and Conservation | And 3 more authors.
Marine Biology | Year: 2014

Data from eight microsatellite markers screened in 246 rhinoceros auklets (Cerorhinca monocerata) from across the North Pacific revealed multiple genetic groups. The east (North America) to west (Japan) split was clearly evident in all analyses. Within the eastern Pacific, a minimum of three genetic groups are present. Surprisingly, rhinoceros auklets from Triangle Island, British Columbia, were genetically isolated from other nearby populations, including the breeding colony on Pine Island (~100 km to the east). A fourth genetic cluster (Chowiet Is) was detected using principal coordinate's analysis; however, sample sizes were limited. Patterns of differentiation correspond to nonbreeding distributions with the eastern and western Pacific birds spending time off the west coast of North America and Japan, respectively, and may represent historical isolation in separate refugia during the Pleistocene glaciations. The patterns of genetic structure result from a combination of historical and contemporary factors influencing dispersal of rhinoceros auklets. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Vincenzi S.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Vincenzi S.,Polytechnic of Milan | Vincenzi S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Hatch S.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 4 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2015

Supplementation of food to wild animals is extensively applied as a conservation tool to increase local production of young. However, in long-lived migratory animals, the carry-over effects of food supplementation early in life on the subsequent recruitment of individuals into natal populations and their lifetime reproductive success are largely unknown. We examine how experimental food supplementation early in life affects: (i) recruitment as breeders of kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla born in a colony on Middleton Island (Alaska) between 1996 and 2006 (n = 1629) that bred in the same colony through 2013 (n = 235); and (ii) breeding success of individuals that have completed their life cycle at the colony (n = 56). Birds were raised in nests that were either supplemented with food (Fed) or unsupplemented (Unfed). Fledging success was higher in Fed compared with Unfed nests. After accounting for hatching rank, growth and oceanic conditions at fledging, Fed fledglings had a lower probability of recruiting as breeders in the Middleton colony than Unfed birds. The per-nest contribution of breeders was still significantly higher for Fed nests because of their higher productivity. Lifetime reproductive success of a subset of kittiwakes that thus far had completed their life cycle was not affected by the food supplementation during development. Our results cast light on the carry-over effects of early food conditions on the vital rates of long-lived animals and support food supplementation as an effective conservation strategy for long-lived seabirds. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Merkling T.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Merkling T.,University Paul Sabatier | Chastel O.,CNRS Chizé Center for Biological Studies | Blanchard P.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | And 6 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2014

Nest-bound chicks depend entirely on their parents for food, often leading to high sibling competition. Asynchronous hatching, resulting from the onset of incubation before clutch completion, facilitates the establishment of within-nest hierarchy, with younger chicks being subject to lower feeding and growth rates. Because social and nutritional stresses affect baseline stress hormone levels in birds, younger chicks are expected to have higher levels of corticosterone than their siblings. As previous studies showed that hatching asynchrony magnitude influences the course of sibling competition, it should also affect baseline corticosterone. We measured baseline corticosterone at age 5. days in nestling black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) in 3 types of experimental broods: synchronous, asynchronous, and highly asynchronous. Sexual dimorphism takes place during chick-rearing and might also influence baseline corticosterone, we thus included chick sex in our analyses and also monitored chick growth and survival. Baseline corticosterone did not differ among A-chicks, but was higher in B-chicks from highly asynchronous broods compared with the other brood types, in line with the presumed increase in nutritional stress. In asynchronous broods, A-chicks had higher baseline corticosterone than their siblings, contrary to our expectations. We interpret that result as a cost of dominance among A-chicks. In line with previous studies, mass gain was negatively correlated with baseline corticosterone levels. We found that baseline corticosterone predicted survival in a sex-specific way. Regardless of hatching rank, males with higher baseline corticosterone suffered higher mortality, suggesting that males were more sensitive to high level of stress, independently of its cause. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.


Stothart M.R.,University of Guelph | Elliott K.H.,McGill University | Wood T.,University of Manitoba | Hatch S.A.,Institute for Seabird Research and Conservation | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Biology | Year: 2016

The integral of the dynamic component of acceleration over time has been proposed as a measure of energy expenditure in wild animals. We tested that idea by attaching accelerometers to the tails of freeranging pelagic cormorants (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) and simultaneously estimating energy expenditure using doubly labelled water. Two different formulations of dynamic body acceleration, [vectorial and overall DBA (VeDBA and ODBA)], correlated with mass-specific energy expenditure (both R2=0.91). VeDBA models combining and separately parameterizing flying, diving, activity on land and surface swimming were consistently considered more parsimonious than time budget models and showed less variability in model fit. Additionally, we observed evidence for the presence of hypometabolic processes (i.e. reduced heart rate and body temperature; shunting of blood away from non-essential organs) that suppressed metabolism in cormorants while diving, which was the most metabolically important activity. We concluded that a combination of VeDBA and physiological processes accurately measured energy expenditure for cormorants. © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


Merkling T.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Merkling T.,University Paul Sabatier | Agdere L.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Agdere L.,University Paul Sabatier | And 10 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology | Year: 2014

In unpredictable environments, any tactic that enables avian parents to adjust brood size and, thus, energy expenditure to environmental conditions should be favoured. Hatching asynchrony (HA), which occurs whenever incubation commences before clutch completion, may comprise such a tactic. For instance, the sibling rivalry hypothesis states that the hierarchy among chicks, concomitant to HA, should both facilitate the adjustment of brood size to environmental conditions and reduce several components of sibling competition as compared to synchronous hatching, at both brood and individual levels. We thus predicted that brood aggression, begging and feeding rates should decrease and that older chick superiority should increase with HA increasing, leading to higher growth and survival rates. Accordingly, we investigated the effects of an experimental upward and downward manipulation of HA magnitude on behaviour, growth and survival of black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)chicks. In line with the sibling rivalry hypothesis, synchronous hatching increased aggression and tended to increase feeding rates by parents at the brood level. Begging rates, however, increased with HA contrary to our expectations. At the individual level, as HA magnitude increased, the younger chick was attacked and begged proportionally more often, experienced a slower growth and a higher mortality than its sibling. Overall, the occurrence of energetic costs triggered by synchronous hatching both for parents and chicks, together with the lower growth rate and increased mortality of the younger chick in highly asynchronous broods suggest that natural HA magnitude may be optimal. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013.


Schultner J.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Schultner J.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Kitaysky A.S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Gabrielsen G.W.,Norwegian Polar Institute | And 3 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

Life-history strategies describe that 'slow'- in contrast to 'fast'-living species allocate resources cautiously towards reproduction to enhance survival. Recent evidence suggests that variation in strategies exists not only among species but also among populations of the same species. Here, we examined the effect of experimentally induced stress on resource allocation of breeding seabirds in two populations with contrasting life-history strategies: Slowliving Pacific and fast-living Atlantic black-legged kittiwakes. We tested the hypothesis that reproductive responses in kittiwakes under stress reflect their life-history strategies. We predicted that in response to stress, Pacific kittiwakes reduce investment in reproduction compared with Atlantic kittiwakes. We exposed chick-rearing kittiwakes to a short-term (3-day) period of increased exogenous corticosterone (CORT), a hormone that is released during food shortages. We examined changes in baseline CORT levels, parental care and effects on offspring. We found that kittiwakes from the two populations invested differently in offspring when facing stress. In response to elevated CORT, Pacific kittiwakes reduced nest attendance and deserted offspring more readily than Atlantic kittiwakes. We observed lower chick growth, a higher stress response in offspring and lower reproductive success in response to CORT implantation in Pacific kittiwakes, whereas the opposite occurred in the Atlantic. Our findings support the hypothesis that lifehistory strategies predict short-term responses of individuals to stress within a species. We conclude that behaviour and physiology under stress are consistent with trade-off priorities as predicted by life-history theory. We encourage future studies to consider the pivotal role of life-history strategies when interpreting inter-population differences of animal responses to stressful environmental events. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.


Will A.P.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Suzuki Y.,Hokkaido University | Elliott K.H.,University of Manitoba | Hatch S.A.,Institute for Seabird Research and Conservation | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Biology | Year: 2014

In nest-bound avian offspring, food shortages typically trigger a release of the stress hormone corticosterone (CORT). Recent studies indicate that CORT is passively deposited in the tissue of growing feathers and thus may provide an integrated measure of stress incurred during development in the nest. The current hypothesis predicts that, assuming a constant rate of feather growth, elevated CORT circulating in the blood corresponds to higher levels of CORT in feather tissue, but experimental evidence for nutritionally stressed chicks is lacking. Here, we examined how food limitation affects feather CORT content in the rhinoceros auklet (Cerorhinca moncerata). We (i) used captive chicks reared on control versus restricted diets, and (ii) applied this technique to free-living chicks with unknown nutritional histories that fledged at three separate colonies. We found that (i) feather growth was not affected by experimentally induced nutritional stress; (ii) captive chicks raised on a restricted diet had higher levels of CORT in their primary feathers; (iii) feather CORT deposition is a sensitive method of detecting nutritional stress; and (iv) free-living fledglings from the colony with poor reproductive performance had higher CORT in their primary feathers. We conclude that feather CORT is a sensitive integrated measure revealing the temporal dynamics of food limitations experienced by rhinoceros auklet nestlings. The use of feather CORT may be a powerful endocrine tool in ecological and evolutionary studies of bird species with similar preferential allocation of limited resources to feather development. © 2014. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


Chivers L.S.,Brundall Norfolk | Hatch S.A.,Institute for Seabird Research and Conservation | Elliott K.H.,University of Sainte-Anne
Condor | Year: 2015

Miniaturized data loggers have revolutionized the study of animal movement. However, data obtained from tagging could be compromised by impacts on animal welfare and behavior. We evaluated short-term (activity budgets, foraging trip metrics, overall dynamic body acceleration [ODBA] of flying, wingbeat frequency, adult mass, and nestling mass) and long-term metrics (breeding success and survival) for breeding female Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) tagged with both GPS and accelerometer tags (5.2% of body mass), birds tagged with only accelerometers (1.0% of body mass), and untagged birds. Breeding success, survival, adult mass, and nestling masswere not affected by tagging, and there were no differences in trip metrics, ODBA, and flapping frequency for birds tagged with GPS and accelerometer packages vs. only accelerometers. However, accelerometry revealed that, whentagged for 3 days with GPS and accelerometer tags, kittiwakes reduced the amount of time spent flying by 30%. Impacts of short-term tag deployments were detected by measuring metrics over the same short timescale, ratherthan through measurement of long-term metrics. We suggest that tagging birds alters their behavior, but that such effects may not be detected using coarse-scale measures, such as reproductive success, survival, and body mass, dueto behavioral accommodation. We recommend that researchers examine, or at least take into consideration, behavioral changes that may be associated with tagging, even if there are no clear effects on fitness or conditionmeasures. © 2016 Cooper Ornithological Society.

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