Geolocator-tracking seabird migration and moult reveal large-scale, temperature-driven isoscapes in the NE Atlantic

Kelly Atkins, Stuart Bearhop, Thomas W. Bodey, W. James Grecian, Keith Hamer, Jorge M. Pereira, Hannah Meinertzhagen, Chris Mitchell, Greg Morgan, Lisa Morgan, Jason Newton, Richard B. Sherley, Stephen C. Votier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Rationale: By combining precision satellite-tracking with blood sampling, seabirds can be used to validate marine carbon and nitrogen isoscapes, but it is unclear whether a comparable approach using low-precision light-level geolocators (GLS) and feather sampling can be similarly effective. Methods: Here we used GLS to identify wintering areas of northern gannets (Morus bassanus) and sampled winter grown feathers (confirmed from image analysis of non-breeding birds) to test for spatial gradients in δ13C and δ15N in the NE Atlantic. Results: By matching winter-grown feathers with the non-breeding location of tracked birds we found latitudinal gradients in δ13C and δ15N in neritic waters. Moreover, isotopic patterns were best explained by sea surface temperature. Similar isotope gradients were found in fish muscle sampled at local ports. Conclusions: Our study reveals the potential of using seabird GLS and feathers to reconstruct large-scale isotopic patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9489
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number9
Early online date12 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the following individuals for their generous contributions of photos used in their analysis of gannet moult: Alice Trevail, Murdo Messer, Beneharo Rodriguez, Catherine Jordan, Celia Ackerman, Charlotte Cummings, David Palmar, Enric Badosa, Jan Phillip, Geissel, Jessica Hey, Jo Anne Hood, Joseph Hames, Julien Gerngon, Kate Muir, Linda Scrima, Spea, Bianca P Vieira, Pedro Geraldes, Rita Matos, Nicola Hodgins, Nuno Oliveira, J. Gonin, Pep Arcos, Ron McIntyre, Rosie Brown, Steve Flynn, and Steve Truluck. The authors are grateful for the assistance of Ayoub Baali, Ahmed Yahyaoui, Sage Milestone, and numerous local fishermen during fieldwork conducted in Morocco. In addition, they thank Beth Clark, Liam Langley, Kirsty Laurenson, Aline Cerqueira, the RSPB, and Venture Jet for their hard work and logistical support during fieldwork conducted on Grassholm, Wales.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Data Availability Statement

Data is available on request.


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