Volume 47, No. 2

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Energy intake rate influences survival of Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani broods


1Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
2National Park Service, Denali National Park and Preserve, Denali Park, AK 99775, USA
3US Geological Survey, Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
4Current Address: US Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA
5Current Address: US Geological Survey, Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA (


ROBINSON, B.H., PHILLIPS, L.M. & POWELL, A.N. 2019. Energy intake rate influences survival of Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani broods. Marine Ornithology 47: 277 - 283

Received 06 June 2019, accepted 14 August 2019

Date Published: 2019/10/15
Date Online: 2019/09/29
Key words: Alaska, brood survival, chick diet, growth, parental care, provisioning rates


The Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani is a species of conservation concern that depends on marine intertidal prey resources. We examined diet, feeding rates, growth, and survival of Black Oystercatcher broods in southcentral Alaska, 2013-2014. To determine the importance of diet for brood survival, we modeled daily survival rates of broods as a function of energy intake rate and other ecological factors. We hypothesized that broods fed at higher energy intake rates would grow faster and fly earlier, and thus be less vulnerable to predators and have higher rates of survival. Consistent with our prediction, broods with higher energy intake rates had higher rates of growth and daily survival. Our best-supported model indicated that brood survival varied by energy intake rate and brood age. To understand how adults meet the increasing nutritional needs of developing chicks, we examined delivery rates, prey type, and prey size as a function of brood age. Delivery rates differed by age, but composition and size classes of prey items did not, indicating that adults respond to the rising energetic needs of broods by increasing parental effort rather than by switching prey. These findings demonstrate the importance of diet and provisioning to broods and, given the consequences of reduced energy intake on survival, indicate that climate change-related shifts in intertidal invertebrates could significantly impact Black Oystercatcher populations.


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