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The Annual Cycle, Breeding Biology and Feeding Ecology of the Lesser Black-Backed Gull Larus fuscus
Camphuysen, C.J.; van Donk, S.; Shamoun-Baranes, J.; Kentie, R. (2023). The Annual Cycle, Breeding Biology and Feeding Ecology of the Lesser Black-Backed Gull Larus fuscus. Ardea 112(1).
In: Ardea. Nederlandse Ornithologische Unie: Arnhem & Leiden. ISSN 0373-2266; e-ISSN 2213-1175, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    reproductive success; migratory movements; foraging ecology; chick growth; cannibalism; timing; site-fidelity

Auteurs  Top 
  • Camphuysen, C.J., meer
  • van Donk, S., meer
  • Shamoun-Baranes, J.
  • Kentie, R., meer

    The population increase of Lesser Black-backed Gulls in The Netherlands triggered investigations into life-history, migratory movements and foraging ecology during 16 years of nest-monitoring, colour-ringing and GPS-tracking on the island of Texel (Wadden Sea). The main objective was to obtain comprehensive ecological data on breeding performance within the context of the annual cycle, shifts in resources, prey types and habitat use. Migration strategies ranged from short- (France, England), medium- (Portugal, Spain) to long-distance (NW Africa), utilising marine, coastal or terrestrial, region-specific resources. Young birds travelled on average further than older individuals. Strong within-colony philopatry was found, this was strongest in males. Assessments of mate-fidelity indicated serial, social monogamy. Unexpectedly, given increasing population trends when the study commenced, fledging rates were low and declining egg volumes, smaller hatchlings, declining mass at fledging and high levels of cannibalism indicated structural food stress. Fledgling mass was well below that of chicks in historical studies, suggesting insufficient provisioning. Breeding was highly synchronised and early nesters fledged more young than late pairs. The onset of breeding was significantly delayed over the years, chick depredation rates declined, overall breeding success became more variable. Marine, urban and rural habitats, mostly within 80 km from the colony were used for foraging. Marine prey, mostly fisheries discards, formed the principal prey for most birds, supplemented with food found in agricultural areas. Human waste was found in only 7% of prey samples. A consistent decline of marine prey (in line with developing restrictions in fisheries), combined with signals pointing at food stress, suggests that the population is unable to boost reproductive success with currently existing foraging opportunities.

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