Habitat selection and foraging ecology of seabirds in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
The study focuses on at-sea distribution, habitat selection and foraging ecology of seabirds in a seabird hotspot, the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Analyses are based on standardized ship-based surveys with oceanographic sampling, and equipment of breeding birds with data loggers. The Northern Gannet as focal species was most abundant. At-sea totals for the Southern Gulf proved regional and international importance for several species. New insights into links between seabirds and at-sea habitats were gained using generalized additive models (GAMs). Colony location as spatial constraint showed strong influence on breeding species. Water mass indicators were important predictors of seabird distribution. Northern Gannets were highly associated with cetaceans which had a strong influence on foraging behavior and general distribution of Gannets. Breeding Gannets from Bonaventure feeding on Atlantic Mackerel showed short, high speed and shallow V-shaped dives in response to this type of prey.