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Variabilité du comportement de recherche alimentaire d’un oiseau marin tropical : le fou à pieds rouges (Sula sula)

Abstract : Seabird foraging behaviour varies through time according to factors that may be related to life cycle stage and/or habitat. However, no study has previously investigated variation in these different factors and how they impact foraging behaviour in a single species simultaneously. The aim of this thesis was to distinguish the fixed part of foraging behaviour from its different degrees of plasticity in a pantropical seabird, the Red-footed booby (Sula sula). Adults and juveniles from different colonies were equipped with GPS tags to track their foraging trips according to several intrinsic (age and breeding stage) and extrinsic factors (physical forcing, primary productivity and competition for resources). Adult foraging behaviour varied significantly within the same colony according to breeding stage. Tracks were shorter during brooding, which is known to be a particularly energy-constraining time period, and longer during incubation and fledging. Multi-year monitoring at one of the colonies revealed flexibility in behaviour under adverse environmental conditions. Longer tracks were observed during breeding seasons with decreased productivity and eddy activity. High plasticity in foraging behaviour according to habitat was observed across the range of the species. The length and range of adult trips varied considerably among colonies, ranging from strictly diurnal to longer trips that included several nights spent at sea. Red-footed boobies did not appear to target particularly productive areas, and intra- and interspecific competition seemed to explain partly the differences observed between colonies. On the other hand, all the individuals showed similar trip structuring and increased searching effort by adopting area-restricted search (ARS) behaviours. The behaviour of juveniles, still fed by their parents after fledging during a long transition period, was described for the first time. Over time, juveniles increased trip ranges, which were considerably lower than that of adults. Associations at sea with other juveniles were frequently identified. This long learning period seems to be an adaptation allowing the gradual acquisition of the skills necessary for the search and capture of prey. While the behavioural plasticity of individuals tends to cushion the effects of unfavourable conditions at the population scale, this flexibility is still limited. In the current context of global change, assessment of behavioural plasticity is necessary in order to better predict the consequences of these changes on populations.
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Loriane Mendez. Variabilité du comportement de recherche alimentaire d’un oiseau marin tropical : le fou à pieds rouges (Sula sula). Sciences agricoles. Université de La Rochelle, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LAROS020⟩. ⟨tel-01804932⟩

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