Seabird Tracking and Prey Patch Dynamics

We participated in the seabird tracking component of Patch Dynamics study with the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP) – a large-scale study funded by the North Pacific Research Board and National Science Foundation.  Investigators with the seabird component are attempting to identify the underlying mechanisms of why seabird (thick-billed murres, Uria lomvia, and black-legged kittiwakes, Rissa tridactyla) breeding population trends have varied among islands over past decades and how they might respond to future climate change in the Bering Sea.  Field crews used state of the art tracking devices attached to birds and we processed these data to determine foraging ranges, time activity budgets, and dive profiles of birds from three colonies with contrasting productivity, population dynamics, and physical settings within the Bering Sea.  These results were integrated with similar studies of fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) and synoptic hydroacoustic measures of prey fields and biophysical oceanographic features to learn how these various marine predators find food in a dynamic system and what conditions determine optimal foraging.



University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, California

 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Publications and Reports:

Paredes, R., R.A. Orben, R.M. Suryan, D.B. Irons, D.D. Roby, A.M.A Harding, R.C. Young, K.L. Benoit-Bird, C. Ladd, H. Renner, S. Heppell, R.A. Phillips, A. Kitaysky. 2014. Shifts in foraging areas link to long-term population declines of black-legged kittiwakes in the Bering Sea. PLoS ONE 9(3): e92520. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092520.

Benoit-Bird, K.J., Battaile,, B., S.A. Heppell, B. Hoover, D.B. Irons, N. Jones, K. Kuletz, C.A. Nordstrom, R. Paredes, R.M. Suryan, C.M. Waluk, A.J. Trites. 2013. Prey patch patterns predict habitat use by top marine predators with diverse foraging strategies. PLoS ONE 8(1):e53348.

Paredes R., A.M.A. Harding, D.B. Irons, D.D. Roby, R.M. Suryan, R.A. Orben, H. Renner, R. Young, A. Kitaysky. 2012. Proximity to multiple foraging habitats enhances seabirds’ resilience to local food shortages. Marine Ecology Progress Series 471:253-269.

Harding, A., R. Paredes, R.M. Suryan, D. Roby, D. Irons, R. Orben, H. Renner, R. Young, C. Barger, I. Dorresteijn, A. Kitaysky. 2013. Does location really matter? An inter-colony comparison of thick-billed murres (Uria lomvia) breeding at varying distances from productive oceanographic features in the Bering Sea.  Deep-Sea Research II 94:178-191.