Interannual colony exchange among breeding Eastern Brown Pelicans
Intercambio interanual de colonias entre individuos reproductivos de Pelecanus occidentalis carolinensis

Bradley P. Wilkinson, Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, and South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
Patrick G. R. Jodice, U.S. Geological Survey, South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Clemson University, Clemson, SC


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Colonial seabirds often display high rates of interannual site fidelity to breeding locations, especially as adults. Species using more nearshore or coastal systems, however, may display comparatively less fidelity than highly pelagic species. We used long-term GPS tracking data to assess the frequency of interannual colony switching in Eastern Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis carolinensis) in the South Atlantic Bight, a species about which adult site fidelity is poorly understood. By using recursive behavioral patterns to identify nest locations, we report 36% of reproductive attempts occurred at colonies that were different from the colony used in a prior year. Colony switching was especially prevalent in female pelicans, and distances between switched colonies ranged from 56 to 592 km. We suggest that long-term telemetry may be a reliable tool for assessing interannual breeding site fidelity, especially when compared to more traditional band resighting efforts.


Las aves marinas coloniales con frecuencia muestra una alta fidelidad interanual en la ubicación de la reproducción, especialmente como adultos. Las especies que usan sistemas cerca de la costa o costales, sin embargo, pueden mostrar comparativamente menor fidelidad que las especies pelágicas. Utilizamos datos de largo plazo de rastreadores GPS para determinar la frecuencia de cambio interanual de colonias por Pelecanus occidentalis carolinensis en la bahía del sur del atlántico, una especie sobre la cual la fidelidad de los adultos es poco entendida. Por medio del uso de patrones comportamentales recursivos, para identificar la ubicación de los nidos, reportamos que el 36% de los intentos de reproducción ocurrieron en colonias diferentes a las colonias utilizadas el año anterior. El intercambio de colonias fue especialmente prevalente en pelicanos hembra y las distancias entre las colonias tuvieron un rango entre 56 y 592 km. Sugerimos que la telemetría a largo plazo puede ser una herramienta confiable para determinar la fidelidad de sitios de reproducción interanual, especialmente cuando es comparada con métodos más tradicionales de anillamiento y reavistamiento.

Key words

colony fidelity; metapopulation; seabird; South Atlantic Bight; tracking

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Journal of Field Ornithology ISSN: 1557-9263