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Vultures of the seas: hyperacidic stomachs in wandering albatrosses as an adaptation to dispersed food resources, including fishery wastes.

Grémillet D, Prudor A, le Maho Y, Weimerskirch H - PLoS ONE (2012)

Bottom Line: These revealed surprisingly low pH levels (average 1.50±0.13), markedly lower than in other seabirds, and comparable to those of vultures feeding on carrion.Such low stomach pH gives wandering albatrosses a strategic advantage since it allows them a rapid chemical breakdown of ingested food and therefore a rapid digestion.This is useful for feeding on patchy, natural prey, but also on fishery wastes, which might be an important additional food resource for wandering albatrosses.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: CEFE-CNRS, UMR5175, Montpellier, France. david.gremillet@cefe.cnrs.fr

ABSTRACT
Animals are primarily limited by their capacity to acquire food, yet digestive performance also conditions energy acquisition, and ultimately fitness. Optimal foraging theory predicts that organisms feeding on patchy resources should maximize their food loads within each patch, and should digest these loads quickly to minimize travelling costs between food patches. We tested the prediction of high digestive performance in wandering albatrosses, which can ingest prey of up to 3 kg, and feed on highly dispersed food resources across the southern ocean. GPS-tracking of 40 wandering albatrosses from the Crozet archipelago during the incubation phase confirmed foraging movements of between 475-4705 km, which give birds access to a variety of prey, including fishery wastes. Moreover, using miniaturized, autonomous data recorders placed in the stomach of three birds, we performed the first-ever measurements of gastric pH and temperature in procellariformes. These revealed surprisingly low pH levels (average 1.50±0.13), markedly lower than in other seabirds, and comparable to those of vultures feeding on carrion. Such low stomach pH gives wandering albatrosses a strategic advantage since it allows them a rapid chemical breakdown of ingested food and therefore a rapid digestion. This is useful for feeding on patchy, natural prey, but also on fishery wastes, which might be an important additional food resource for wandering albatrosses.

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Foraging paths of 40 incubating wandering albatrosses from Possession Island, Crozet archipelago (white square) in January – March 2011.(A). Five birds performed long trips towards northwest, three performed long trips towards southeast, five birds performed intermediate trips, nine birds remained between the Crozet Archipelago and the westward Prince Edward Islands, and 18 birds remained on the Crozet plateau (B), extensively foraging along its edge; suggesting local interactions with fishing vessels.
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pone-0037834-g001: Foraging paths of 40 incubating wandering albatrosses from Possession Island, Crozet archipelago (white square) in January – March 2011.(A). Five birds performed long trips towards northwest, three performed long trips towards southeast, five birds performed intermediate trips, nine birds remained between the Crozet Archipelago and the westward Prince Edward Islands, and 18 birds remained on the Crozet plateau (B), extensively foraging along its edge; suggesting local interactions with fishing vessels.

Mentions: We equipped a total of 43 birds with GPS recorders. One device did not collect data, a second was lost at sea, and a third only collected data for 12 hours. Therefore a total of 40 complete tracks were collected, for at-sea journeys of between 3.6 and 21.1 days (mean 9.3±4.9), during which birds travelled between 475 and 4507 km (mean 3511±2718). As demonstrated in previous work, the duration of trips was very variable, with trips occurring over oceanic waters, as well as over the shelf edge (Fig. 1).


Vultures of the seas: hyperacidic stomachs in wandering albatrosses as an adaptation to dispersed food resources, including fishery wastes.

Grémillet D, Prudor A, le Maho Y, Weimerskirch H - PLoS ONE (2012)

Foraging paths of 40 incubating wandering albatrosses from Possession Island, Crozet archipelago (white square) in January – March 2011.(A). Five birds performed long trips towards northwest, three performed long trips towards southeast, five birds performed intermediate trips, nine birds remained between the Crozet Archipelago and the westward Prince Edward Islands, and 18 birds remained on the Crozet plateau (B), extensively foraging along its edge; suggesting local interactions with fishing vessels.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3368928&req=5

pone-0037834-g001: Foraging paths of 40 incubating wandering albatrosses from Possession Island, Crozet archipelago (white square) in January – March 2011.(A). Five birds performed long trips towards northwest, three performed long trips towards southeast, five birds performed intermediate trips, nine birds remained between the Crozet Archipelago and the westward Prince Edward Islands, and 18 birds remained on the Crozet plateau (B), extensively foraging along its edge; suggesting local interactions with fishing vessels.
Mentions: We equipped a total of 43 birds with GPS recorders. One device did not collect data, a second was lost at sea, and a third only collected data for 12 hours. Therefore a total of 40 complete tracks were collected, for at-sea journeys of between 3.6 and 21.1 days (mean 9.3±4.9), during which birds travelled between 475 and 4507 km (mean 3511±2718). As demonstrated in previous work, the duration of trips was very variable, with trips occurring over oceanic waters, as well as over the shelf edge (Fig. 1).

Bottom Line: These revealed surprisingly low pH levels (average 1.50±0.13), markedly lower than in other seabirds, and comparable to those of vultures feeding on carrion.Such low stomach pH gives wandering albatrosses a strategic advantage since it allows them a rapid chemical breakdown of ingested food and therefore a rapid digestion.This is useful for feeding on patchy, natural prey, but also on fishery wastes, which might be an important additional food resource for wandering albatrosses.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: CEFE-CNRS, UMR5175, Montpellier, France. david.gremillet@cefe.cnrs.fr

ABSTRACT
Animals are primarily limited by their capacity to acquire food, yet digestive performance also conditions energy acquisition, and ultimately fitness. Optimal foraging theory predicts that organisms feeding on patchy resources should maximize their food loads within each patch, and should digest these loads quickly to minimize travelling costs between food patches. We tested the prediction of high digestive performance in wandering albatrosses, which can ingest prey of up to 3 kg, and feed on highly dispersed food resources across the southern ocean. GPS-tracking of 40 wandering albatrosses from the Crozet archipelago during the incubation phase confirmed foraging movements of between 475-4705 km, which give birds access to a variety of prey, including fishery wastes. Moreover, using miniaturized, autonomous data recorders placed in the stomach of three birds, we performed the first-ever measurements of gastric pH and temperature in procellariformes. These revealed surprisingly low pH levels (average 1.50±0.13), markedly lower than in other seabirds, and comparable to those of vultures feeding on carrion. Such low stomach pH gives wandering albatrosses a strategic advantage since it allows them a rapid chemical breakdown of ingested food and therefore a rapid digestion. This is useful for feeding on patchy, natural prey, but also on fishery wastes, which might be an important additional food resource for wandering albatrosses.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus