Alaska Science Center
Does food availability affect energy expenditure rates of nesting seabirds? A supplemental-feeding experiment with Black-Legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla)
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Product Type: Journal Article
Authors: Jodice, P. G. R., D. D. Roby, S. A. Hatch, V. A. Gill, R. B. Lanctot, and G. H. Visser
We used a supplemental-feeding experiment, the doubly labeled water technique, and a model-selection approach based upon the Akaike Information Criterion to examine effects of food availability on energy expenditure rates of Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) raising young. Energy expenditure rates of supplementally fed females (n = 14) and males (n = 16) were 34 and 20% lower than those of control females (n = 14) and males (n = 18), respectively. Energy expenditure rates of females were more responsive to fluctuations in food availability than those of males. Fed males likely expended more energy while off the nest than fed females, possibly because of nest defense. Energy expenditure rates of fed kittiwakes were similar to values reported for kittiwakes that were either not raising young or not foraging. Parent kittiwakes, therefore, adjusted parental effort in response to variation in breeding conditions due to changes in food availability. Adjustments in reproductive effort in response to variable foraging conditions may have significant effects on the survival and productivity of individuals, and thus provide substantial fitness benefits for long-lived seabirds such as Black-legged Kittiwakes.