Similar at-sea behaviour but different habitat use between failed and successful breeding albatrosses

Aurore Ponchon* (Corresponding Author), Amandine Gamble, Jeremy Tornos, Karine Delord, Christophe Barbraud, Justin Travis, Henri Weimerskirch, Thierry Boulinier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Breeding failure is expected to induce behavioural changes in central place foragers. Indeed, after a failed reproductive attempt, breeding individuals are relieved from having to return to their breeding site for reproductive duties and thus are less constrained than successful breeders in their movements during the remainder of the breeding season. Accordingly, they are expected to adjust their behaviour, travelling longer in distance and/or time to reach foraging
grounds. They are also expected to use different foraging areas to decrease local intra-specific competition with successful breeders. We compared the at-sea behaviour and habitat use of successful and failed Indian yellow-nosed albatrosses nesting in Amsterdam Island, Southern Indian Ocean, during 2 chick-rearing seasons. Failed breeders exhibited the same at-sea foraging
behaviour, travelling as far and as long as successful breeders. They also spent the same amount of time on their nest between at-sea trips. Nevertheless, habitat models revealed partial spatial segregation of failed breeders, which used specific foraging areas characterized by deeper and colder waters in addition to the areas they shared with successful breeders. Our study shows the
importance of combining a range of analytical methods (spatial analysis, behavioural inferences with advanced movement models and habitat models) to infer the at-sea behaviour and habitat use of seabirds. It also stresses the importance of considering individual breeding status when aiming to understand the spatial distribution of individuals, especially when this information may
have conservation implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-196
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Early online date11 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements. We are grateful to Nicolas Giraud, Augustin Clessin, Marine Quintin, Hélène Le Berre and Vincent Bourret for their help in the field and Marine Bély for her help in designing the study. We also thank Vilma I. Ahtiainen for her preliminary analyses on the tracks 2015. Finally, we thank the work of 3 anonymous reviewers who provided constructive comments to improve the analyses and manuscript. This work was supported by the French Polar Institute (IPEV) programs ECOPATH-1151 and ORNI-THOECO-109, Réserve Nationale des Terres Australes Françaises, Zone Atelier Antarctique et Terres Australes
and OSU OREME. The experimental design was approved by the Comité de l’Environnement Polaire and the French Ministry of Research (04939.03). This paper is a contribution of the Plan National d’Action Albatros d’Amsterdam. A.P.
benefited from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 753420 (EcoEvoProspectS project).

Data Availability Statement

Data availability. GPS data are deposited on the Movebank
website (program ECOPATH, Indian yellow-nosed albatross, managed by T. Boulinier), and all statistical analyses
can be found on the GitHub repository (https:// github. com/


  • Breeding failure
  • Behavioural state
  • Foraging behaviour
  • Thalassarche carteri
  • Procellariiformes
  • Habitat models
  • Inter-individual variability


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