Diet of grey-headed albatrosses at the Diego Ramírez Islands, Chile: ecological implications
The diet of grey-headed albatrosses at Diego Ramírez was analysed and compared to that of the sympatric black-browed albatross. Diet composition was inferred from an analysis of prey hard parts present in 103 chick regurgitates obtained during breeding seasons 2000, 2001 and 2002. The squid Martialia hyadesi predominated in the diet samples in 2001 and 2002 (89% and 81% of reconstituted mass), but was absent from the 2000 samples. Reconstituted mean mass per sample in 2000 was significantly lower than in 2001 and 2002. Chick growth rate during 2000 was also the lowest recorded. This suggests that M. hyadesi plays an important role in the breeding performance of grey-headed albatrosses at Diego Ramírez. Low presence of M. hyadesi in grey-headed albatrosses' diet at South Georgia in 2000, a year with significant low breeding success, suggests ocean-wide processes affecting the availability of this prey to both populations simultaneously. Overlap in diet composition, and inferred feeding areas, between the sympatric albatross species at Diego Ramírez was minimal. Grey-headed albatrosses fed mainly on species associated with the Antarctic Polar Front, whereas black-browed albatrosses consumed benthopelagic species frequently caught in fishing operations in southern Chile.(Received July 10 2003)
(Accepted April 20 2004)
Key Words: ENSO; niche partitioning; squid; sympatry; Thalassarche chrysostoma; T. melanophrys.
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