GPS reveals feeding ground predilection differs between Grey and White-chinned Petrels

White chinned petrel by Richard PhilipsA White-chinned Petrel; photograph by Richard Phillips from the Bristish Antarctic Survey (BAS)

Lily K. Bentley (Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK) and colleagues have published open access in the journal IBIS on the differing foraging habitat preferences between the Grey Petrel Procellaria cinerea and White-chinned Petrel P. aequinoctialis from colonies on Gough Island and Bird Island (South Georgia*).

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Foraging niche specialisation is thought to occur when different members of speciose communities divide resources in either time or space. Here we compared habitat preferences of the congeneric Grey Petrel Procellaria cinerea and White-chinned Petrel P. aequinoctialis, tracked in the same calendar year using GPS loggers from Gough Island and Bird Island (South Georgia), respectively. We identified periods of active foraging and determined habitat characteristics using remote-sensing data. Although these highly pelagic species could potentially overlap at sea across large areas, they showed markedly different foraging preferences during their incubation periods, which are temporally offset because Grey Petrels breed during the austral winter. Grey Petrels foraged mostly in pelagic cold-water areas to the north-west of South Georgia, whereas White-chinned Petrels foraged almost exclusively in the warm, shallow waters of the Patagonian Shelf. Within each species, foraging habitat characteristics were highly consistent. Our results demonstrate the diversity of habitat preferences within genera, and provide further evidence that colony-specific information on habitat preference is crucial to identify important feeding areas for pelagic predators.”


Bentley, L.K., Manica, A., Dilley, B.J., Ryan, P.G. and Phillips, R.A. (2022), Divergent foraging habitat preferences between summer-breeding and winter-breeding Procellaria petrels. Ibis. Accepted Author Manuscript.

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

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