Behavioral and trophic segregations help the Tahiti petrel to cope with the abundance of wedge-tailed shearwater when foraging in oligotrophic tropical waters

  • September 15, 2020
  • by Ravache, A., Bourgeois, K., Weimerskirch, H., Pagenaud, A., De Grissac, S., Miller, M., Dromzée, S., Lorrain, A., Allain, V., Bustamante, P. & Bylemans, J.,

Two species breeding in sympatry are more likely to coexist if their ecological niches are segregated either in time, space or in trophic habits. Here, we combined GPS-tracking, stable isotope analysis and DNA metabarcoding analysis to understand how the rare Tahiti petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata (TP) copes with the very abundant (i.e. 500,000 breeding pairs) wedge-tailed shearwater Ardenna pacifica (WTS) when breeding in sympatry in a tropical area. WTS foraged in restricted areas along their path, while TP predominantly foraged using extensive search behavior, suggesting a more opportunistic foraging strategy. Interspecific overlap of foraging areas was higher than intraspecific overlap. Breeding seasons largely overlap between species during the study, but TP seems to be asynchronous breeders. TP fed upon prey with higher δ15N values than WTS, and their diet was mainly composed of deep-sea organisms. TP could feed upon dead prey floating at the surface while WTS preyed mainly upon fish species that generally move in schools. Our study highlights several segregating mechanisms (temporal, behavioral and trophic) that could facilitate the coexistence of the two species despite the predominant number of WTS, and provides the very first information on the foraging and trophic ecology of the poorly-known TP.