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Recently-adopted foraging strategies constrain early chick development in a coastal breeding gull
Sotillo, A.; Baert, J.M.; Müller, W.; Stienen, E.W.M.; Soares, A.M.V.M.; Lens, L. (2019). Recently-adopted foraging strategies constrain early chick development in a coastal breeding gull. PeerJ 7: e7250. https://hdl.handle.net/10.7717/peerj.7250
In: PeerJ. PeerJ: Corte Madera & London. ISSN 2167-8359, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Anthropogenic food; Discard ban; Early development; Opportunistic feeders; Foraging Strategies; Gulls; Scavengers

Authors  Top 
  • Stienen, E.W.M., more
  • Soares, A.M.V.M.
  • Lens, L., more

Abstract
    Human-mediated food sources offer possibilities for novel foraging strategies by opportunistic species. Yet, relative costs and benefits of alternative foraging strategies vary with the abundance, accessibility, predictability and nutritional value of anthropogenic food sources. The extent to which such strategies may ultimately alter fitness, can have important consequences for long-term population dynamics. Here, we studied the relationships between parental diet and early development in free-ranging, cross-fostered chicks and in captive-held, hand-raised chicks of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus) breeding along the Belgian coast. This traditionally marine and intertidal foraging species is now increasingly taking advantage of human activities by foraging on terrestrial food sources in agricultural and urban environments. In accordance with such behavior, the proportion of terrestrial food in the diet of free-ranging chicks ranged between 4% and 80%, and consistent stable isotope signatures between age classes indicated that this variation was mainly due to between-parent variation in feeding strategies. A stronger terrestrial food signature in free-ranging chicks corresponded with slower chick development. However, no consistent differences in chick development were found when contrasting terrestrial and marine diets were provided ad libitum to hand-raised chicks. Results of this study hence suggest that terrestrial diets may lower reproductive success due to limitations in food quantity, rather than quality. Recent foraging niche expansion toward terrestrial resources may thus constitute a suboptimal alternative strategy to marine foraging for breeding Lesser Black-backed Gulls during the chick-rearing period.

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