Seabird Abstracts

Energy expenditures, activity budgets, and prey harvest of breeding Common Murres

Cairns DK, Montevecchi WA, Birt-Friesen VL & Macko SA (1990) Stud Avian Biol 14:84-92

We used doubly labeled water and electronic timers to measure field metabolic rates (FMRs) and activity budgets of Common Murres (Uria aalge) breeding in eastern Newfoundland. Mean FMR (1789 ± 265 kJ/day) was about 50% higher than predictions for seabirds. The high FMR may be related to thermal costs in a cold ocean environment and to high locomotion costs associated with a wing structure that is a compromise between flying and diving needs. Basal metabolic rates (X = 360 ± 69 kJ/day) were also higher than allometric predictions. While absent from the colony birds spent most (70.2-84.9%) time on the sea surface. Potential foraging range as estimated by flight time was greater during incubation than during chick rearing in two study years. Rates of prey exploitation were highest near the colony, but high exploitation rates may also have occurred about 60-70 km from the colony during incubation. Murres associated with the Witless Bay colony consumed an estimated 7579 tonnes of food, primarily capelin (Mallotus villosus).


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