Geolocation and immersion loggers reveal year‐round residency and facilitate nutrient deposition rate estimation of adult red‐footed boobies in the Chagos Archipelago, tropical Indian Ocean

Stephen C. Votier, Grace Corcoran, Pete Carr, Ruth E. Dunn, Robin Freeman, Malcolm A. C. Nicoll, Hannah Wood, Alice M. Trevail

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Abstract

Bio-logging has revealed much about high-latitude seabird migratory strategies, but migratory behaviour in tropical species may differ, with implications for understanding nutrient deposition. Here we use combined light-level and saltwater immersion loggers to study the year-round movement behaviour of adult red-footed boobies Sula sula rubripes from the Chagos Archipelago, tropical Indian Ocean, to assess migratory movements and estimate nutrient deposition rates based on the number of days they spent ashore. Light levels suggest that red-footed boobies are resident in the Chagos Archipelago year-round, although there are large latitudinal errors this close to the equator. Immersion data also indicate residency with tracked birds returning to land every one or two days. Spending an average of 79.86 ± 2.80 days and 280.84 ± 2.64 nights per year on land allows us to estimate that the 21 670 pairs of red-footed boobies deposit 37.34 ± 0.56 tonnes year−1 of guano-derived nitrogen throughout the archipelago. Our findings have implications for tropical seabird conservation and phylogenetics, as well as for assessing the impact of seabird nutrients on coral reef ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Early online date28 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 May 2024

Keywords

  • bio-logging
  • migration
  • nutrients
  • seabird

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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