Sexual segregation in a highly pagophilic and sexually dimorphic marine predator

Abstract : Sexual segregation is common in many species and has been attributed to intra-specific competition, sex-specific differences in foraging efficiency or in activity budgets and habitat choice. However, very few studies have simultaneously quantified sex-specific foraging strategies, at sea distribution, habitat use, and trophic ecology. Moreover, these studies come from low latitude areas reflecting a lack of evidence for polar species. We investigated sexual segregation in snow petrels Pagodroma nivea and combined movement, foraging trip efficiency, stable isotope and oceanographic data to test whether sexual segregation results from sex-specific habitat use. Breeding birds foraging in the Dumont d'Urville sea, Antarctica, were tracked during incubation. Some similarities between males and females foraging characteristics did not support the sexual segregation hypothesis. Indeed, space-use sharing and utilization distribution, d13C values and foraging trip performances (trip duration, length, speed and directions, mass gain, proportion mass gain) were similar between males and females.. However, there was support for sexual segregation in foraging characteristics linked to foraging habitats. Females foraged less than males in areas with higher sea ice concentration (SIC >70%) and had lower d15N values in plasma, blood cells and feathers. Foraging efficiency (proportionate daily mass gain while foraging), was greater for females than for males, and was greater for larger females with deeper bills. Females were more efficient than males during short (<2 days) foraging trips, and for females, but not for males, mass gain, proportion mass gain and body condition at return from a foraging trip were positively correlated to SIC of the foraging areas. Together, these results suggest an absence of sexual segregation at large spatial scales in snow petrels during incubation, but strongly support habitat segregation between high (>70%) more profitable SIC (males) and low SIC areas (females), probably driven by intraspecific competition. Therefore, male and female snow petrels segregate at small spatial scales mainly determined by habitat (SIC) characteristics.
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Contributor : Martine Lacalle <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 9:56:36 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, June 27, 2019 - 1:48:58 AM

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Christophe Barbraud, Karine Delord, Akiko Kato, Paco Bustamante, Yves Cherel. Sexual segregation in a highly pagophilic and sexually dimorphic marine predator. Peer Community in Ecology, Peer Community In, In press. ⟨hal-02165662⟩

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