Stable breeding despite variable feeding in two sympatric auk species

Lorraine Chivers, Mathieu Lundy, Neil Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Capsule Despite substantial inter-annual and inter-specific variance in the composition of chick diet, the breeding success of Guillemots (Common Murres) Uria aalge and Razorbills Alca torda remained constant from 2008 to 2010.
Aims To examine inter-specific and inter-annual differences in breeding success, chick provisioning behaviour and predation between two sympatric auk species.
Methods Focal observations of breeding auks at Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland, during 2008, 2009 and 2010 recorded reproductive success, reasons for breeding failure, prey composition and quality and chick provisioning rates.
Results Breeding success of both species was stable over the three years, despite significant variance in the composition and quality of the diet provided to chicks. Razorbills experienced greater rates of failure than Guillemots owing to chick loss and had lower overall breeding success.
Conclusion Guillemot and Razorbill breeding success was independent of the composition and quality of prey items delivered to chicks. Inter-specific differences in reproductive success may have been attributed to greater rates of predation at Razorbill rather than Guillemot nests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-73
JournalBird Study
Issue number1
Early online date03 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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