Delayed capelin (Mallotus villosus) availability influences predatory behaviour of large gulls on black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), causing a reduction in kittiwake breeding success

M. Massaro, J. W. Chardine, I. L. Jones, G. J. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

During 1998 and 1999, the impact of predation by herring gulls (Larus argentatus) and great black-backed gulls (Larus marinus) on breeding success of black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) at Gull Island, Witless Bay, southeastern Newfoundland, was quantified in relation to the timing of the annual arrival of capelin (Mallotus villosus) to spawn. The frequency of predation attempts by large gulls on kittiwakes was compared among three periods: before the mean hatching date for herring gulls, between the mean hatching date for herring gulls and the arrival of the capelin, and following capelin arrival. The frequency varied significantly among the three periods, being highest after gull chicks hatched but before the capelin arrived. The frequency of gull predation was significantly correlated with the percentage of kittiwake eggs and chicks that disappeared each week. We estimated that 43 and 30% of kittiwake eggs and chicks at Gull Island were taken by gulls in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Kittiwakes have been indirectly (through increased predation by gulls) affected by the delayed arrival and lower abundance of capelin in recent years, which underlines the need to understand multispecies interactions when interpreting the effects of human alteration of the marine environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1588-1596
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Volume78
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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