Volume 46, No. 1

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Foraging behaviour of Great Black-blacked Gulls Larus marinus near an urban centre in Atlantic Canada: evidence of individual specialization from GPS tracking


1University of Manitoba, 66 Chancellors Circle, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada
2Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, 45 Alderney Dr., Dartmouth, NS B2Y 2N6, Canada (


MAYNARD, L.D. & RONCONI, R.A. 2018. Foraging behaviour of Great Black-blacked Gulls Larus marinus near an urban centre in Atlantic Canada: evidence of individual specialization from GPS tracking. Marine Ornithology 46: 27 - 32

Received 19 June 2017, accepted 15 November 2017

Date Published: 2018/4/15
Date Online: 2018/3/12


Researchers studying the feeding behaviour of large Laridae have focused primarily on dietary reconstructions and behavioural observations on feeding grounds, but little is known about individual-level foraging habits. The recent development of GPS tracking technologies has allowed new ways to quantify individual-level foraging behaviour. We provide the first known tracking data of Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus using GPS devices deployed on three incubating adults on Devil’s Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Distance travelled and maximum foraging trip distance from the nest differed among individuals, and individuals showed differences in preference for habitat use. One individual visited coastal environments during 81% of its foraging trips, whereas the second visited urban areas during 71% of its foraging trips. The third individual did not display strong preference for any habitat relative to the other individuals but was the only tracked individual visiting salt marshes (24% of its trips). Calculation of core foraging/roosting area (50% utilization) using kernel density estimators also revealed different degrees of consistency in visited habitat and diversity of locations used among individuals. This study, although limited in sample size, suggests presence of variation in foraging behaviour among individuals. While dietary studies have presented Great Black-backed Gulls as generalists at the population level, telemetry data may reveal strong behavioural and habitat specialization at the individual level.


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