The pelagic distribution of marine birds in a heterogeneous environment

  • George L. Hunt Jr.


In this paper I review recent, small-scale, process-oriented studies of the pelagic distribution of marine birds. I examine the roles played by a variety of hydrographic features, including steep flow gradients (fronts) and water column stratification, in determining the abundance or availability of avian prey. The ice edge/marginal ice zone is a frontal area of particular interest in polar regions. In most oceanic systems we have examples of avian use of a feature, hut only poor information on the importance of the feature for supporting the population as a whole. I review recent studies of the spatial and numerical concordance of marine birds and their prey, and find that these studies have yielded mixed results, with correlations stronger for piscivorous birds, particularly murres foraging on capelin, than for planktivores. Review of investigations of multispecies interactions during foraging shows that flock foraging has both beneficial and negative aspects. Interspecific facilitation of foraging occurs in numerous interactions involving both other species of birds and marine mammals. However, co-occurrence of predators may occur because both seek the same prey, and caution must be used in assessing mutualistic interactions between predatory species.


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How to Cite
Hunt Jr., G. (1990). The pelagic distribution of marine birds in a heterogeneous environment. Polar Research, 8(1), 43-54.