Urban and coastal breeding lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus) segregate by foraging habitat

Liam P. Langley*, Stuart Bearhop, Niall H. K. Burton, Alex N. Banks, Tim Frayling, Chris B. Thaxter, Gary D. Clewley, Emily Scragg, Stephen C. Votier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Despite urbanization's general erosion of biodiversity, towns and cities provide novel opportunities for some species. During the 20th century, gulls (Laridae) colonized urban areas around the world where they flourished. At the same time, some coastal populations declined. The reasons for this difference are not fully understood, partly because little is known about any ecological differences between urban and non-urban gulls, such as their foraging ecology. Here we compare the movement ecology and habitat selection of Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus graellsii breeding at two neighbouring colonies – one urban and one coastal – in north-west England. We used bird-borne GPS loggers to first compare colony-level movement behaviour and habitat selection and then investigated individual-level habitat use. We observed clear colony-level habitat segregation: urban breeders preferentially foraged in urban areas whereas coastal breeders foraged primarily in coastal habitats and avoided urban areas. Coastal breeders also had larger core and home-ranges than urban breeders, possibly due to differences in colony size. However, we also found inter-individual differences in habitat use, which may have important management implications. These findings suggest a link between nesting and foraging ecology, and thus management or environmental change altering food availability will impact gulls at the coastal and urban sites differently.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date30 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2022


  • bio-logging
  • generalist
  • GPS-tracking
  • management
  • seabirds
  • urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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