Sea surface temperature constrains wedge-tailed shearwater foraging success within breeding seasons

Peck, Darren R., Smithers, Brian V., Krockenberger, Andrew K., and Congdon, Bradley C. (2004) Sea surface temperature constrains wedge-tailed shearwater foraging success within breeding seasons. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 281. pp. 259-266.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Download (146kB)
View at Publisher Website:


Processes that underlie impacts of global warming on marine organisms at upper trophic levels are largely unknown. Long-term studies of seabirds indicate that inter-annual decreases in fledging success are correlated with El Niño years, when sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are above long-term averages. These studies propose that seasonal processes are most likely responsible. To date, no work has focused on the potential impacts of elevated SSTs on seabird reproduction at finer time scales, i.e. within a breeding season. We directly measured the influence of SST variability on foraging success in the wedge-tailed shearwater Puffinus pacificus within and among 3 breeding seasons at Heron Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. We found that changes in foraging success (meal size and feed frequency) and chick growth were negatively correlated with daily variations in SST both within and among seasons. Our findings suggest that forage resource availability fluctuated daily in direct association with small-scale variation in SST. This is evidence that declines in seabird breeding success, previously coupled exclusively with large-scale El Niño conditions and processes, may also involve fine-scale mechanisms. Consequently, observed El Niño scale impacts may include season-specific outcomes of day-to-day trophic interactions that operate within all breeding seasons.

Item ID: 24575
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1616-1599
Additional Information:

All MEPS articles are available online. Articles published 5 years ago or more may be accessed freely by all users. (see

Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2013 00:10
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 356
Last 12 Months: 8
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page