Determining food requirements in marine top-predators: A comparison of three independent techniques in Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo

Gremillet, D., Storch, Sandra and Peters, G. (2000) Determining food requirements in marine top-predators: A comparison of three independent techniques in Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo Canadian Journal of Zoology, 78 (9). pp. 1567-1579. DOI 10.1139/z00-092.

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Abstract

Assessment of food requirements is a key feature in the evaluation of the ecological status of the marine megafauna. However, this remains technically difficult because prey intake by marine top predators occurs mainly under water, out of sight. In this paper, we compare three independent methods currently available for use in quantitative dietary studies: (1) time-energy budget; (2) stomach-temperature measurements; and (3) automatic weighing. To this end, concurrent measurements were performed on Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo carbo) breeding in Normandy. According to the time-energy budget method, breeding males required 690 g of fish while incubating, 1050 g when rearing small chicks, and 1350 g when rearing large chicks; corresponding values for breeding females were 500, 760, and 970 g. These measurements are similar to estimates derived from automatic weighing data, which gave a mean food intake of 540 and 390 g for incubating males and females, 1150 and 830 g for those tending small chicks, and 1410 and 1010 g for those tending large ones, respectively. Stomach-temperature measurements, which can only be performed for birds raising small chicks, were lower (640 g fish in males and 450 g in females) than those obtained using the other two methods. We compare these results with former estimates obtained at the same study site and for other Great Cormorant subspecies and discuss the relative accuracies of the three techniques. Finally, we stress that better assessment of the ecological status of marine top predators requires further technical improvements and additional investigations outside of the reproductive phase

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1139/z00-092
ISSN: 0008-4301
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:24
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2016 12:05
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/474

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