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Fatty acid signatures of stomach contents reflect inter- and intra-annual changes in diet of a small pelagic seabird, the Thin-billed prion Pachyptila belcheri
Quillfeldt, P.; Masello, J.F.; Brickle, P.; Martin-Creuzburg, D. (2011). Fatty acid signatures of stomach contents reflect inter- and intra-annual changes in diet of a small pelagic seabird, the Thin-billed prion Pachyptila belcheri. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 158(8): 1805-1813. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-011-1693-8
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Quillfeldt, P.
  • Masello, J.F.
  • Brickle, P.
  • Martin-Creuzburg, D.

Abstract
    In diet analyses of seabirds, fatty acid signatures (FAS) can be used to overcome biases due to differential digestion of prey and enable the analysis of very digested diet samples. We applied FAS analysis to stomach contents of a small sub-Antarctic seabird, the Thin-billed Prion Pachyptila belcheri, which feeds mainly on squid during incubation and on crustacea during chick rearing. This seasonal dietary switch of Thin-billed prions was reflected in differences in FAS in regurgitates, as were inter-annual differences in diet composition. A discriminant function analysis correctly classified 93.4% of cases with respect to year (2006–2008) and stage of the breeding cycle (incubation versus chick rearing). The dominant types of crustacea in the diet of Thin-billed prions (amphipods Themisto gaudichaudii, euphausiids, decapods Munida gregaria, and calanoid copepods) were distinguished well by characteristic FAS patterns. However, the FAS of the two main types of prey by volume, amphipods T. gaudichaudii and squid Gonatus antarcticus, were similar to each other. Although FAS were successfully applied in the analysis of prey in stomach contents of prions, FAS of some prey species were similar and may not be distinguishable from each other if used in quantitative diet analyses.

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