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September 2015

Publication Title

Movement Ecology



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Laysan albatross, Black-footed albatross, Foraging behavior, Activity patterns, Spatial segregation, Habitat selection, Satellite tracking, Geolocation, Spatial modeling


Biology | Marine Biology


The spatiotemporal distribution of animals is dependent on a suite of factors, including the distribution of resources, interactions within and between species, physiological limitations, and requirements for reproduction, dispersal, or migration. During breeding, reproductive constraints play a major role in the distribution and behavior of central place foragers, such as pelagic seabirds. We examined the foraging behavior and marine habitat selection of Laysan (Phoebastria immutabilis) and black-footed (P. nigripes) albatrosses throughout their eight month breeding cycle at Tern Island, Northwest Hawaiian Islands to evaluate how variable constraints of breeding influenced habitat availability and foraging decisions. We used satellite tracking and light-based geolocation to determine foraging locations of individuals, and applied a biologically realistic null usage model to generate control locations and model habitat preference under a case–control design. Remotely sensed oceanographic data were used to characterize albatross habitats in the North Pacific. Results Individuals of both species ranged significantly farther and for longer durations during incubation and chick-rearing compared to the brooding period. Interspecific segregation of core foraging areas was observed during incubation and chick-rearing, but not during brooding. At-sea activity patterns were most similar between species during brooding; neither species altered foraging effort to compensate for presumed low prey availability and high energy demands during this stage. Habitat selection during long-ranging movements was most strongly associated with sea surface temperature for both species, with a preference for cooler ocean temperatures compared to overall availability. During brooding, lower explanatory power of habitat models was likely related to the narrow range of ocean temperatures available for selection. Conclusions Laysan and black-footed albatrosses differ from other albatross species in that they breed in an oligotrophic marine environment. During incubation and chick-rearing, they travel to cooler, more productive waters, but are restricted to the low-productivity environment near the colony during brooding, when energy requirements are greatest. Compared to other albatross species, Laysan and black-footed albatrosses spend a greater proportion of time in flight when foraging, especially during the brooding period; this strategy may be adaptive for locating dispersed prey in an oligotrophic environment.


© 2015 Kappes et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, andreproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link tothe Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
This article was originally published in Movement Biology Vol. 3, Iss. 34 by BioMed Central on September 29, 2015, DOI:10.1186/s40462-015-0063-4 . The article is also available online at this link.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.