A framework to unlock marine bird energetics

Ruth E. Dunn, James Duckworth, Jonathan A. Green

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Energetics can provide novel insights into the roles of animals, but employing an energetics approach has traditionally required extensive empirical physiological data on the focal species, something that can be challenging for those that inhabit marine environments. There is therefore a demand for a framework through which to estimate energy expenditure from readily available data. We present the energetic costs associated with important time- and energy-intensive behaviours across nine families of marine bird (including seabirds, ducks, divers and grebes) and nine ecological guilds. We demonstrate a worked example, calculating the year-round energetic expenditure of the great auk, Pinguinus impennis, under three migration scenarios, thereby illustrating the capacity of this approach to make predictions for data-deficient species. We provide a comprehensive framework through which to model marine bird energetics and demonstrate the power of this approach to provide novel, quantitative insights into the influence of marine birds within their ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb246754
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number24
Early online date18 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Animals
  • Ecosystem
  • Birds/physiology
  • Charadriiformes/physiology
  • Ducks
  • Energy Metabolism/physiology


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