The use of Seabirds to reveal distribution of Cephalopods

Some groups of oceanic animals, such as cephalopods, are highly skiing to scientific nets. Occurring in big areas such the Southern Ocean, the task of discover their habitat is a hard task. However, better than scientists, predators are excellent in the task of catching them. With a huge role in Antarctic ecosystem it is priority to increase the knowledge of their ecology. For that, and using their predators as biological samplers, several techniques have been used to achieve this goal.

Attaching several devices to Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans, GPS and Temperature Stomach Probes, and relating with the stomach content in the end of each trip, it was possible to describe the position of several squid species in the region of South Georgia.

Adult Wandering Albatross and its chick.
GPS (left) and Temperature Stomach Probe (right).

Squid distribution was described in relation to their position relatively to oceanic fronts [1], revealing that this method is reliable and it can be used to increase the knowledge of this ecological important group of the Southern Ocean. Also, and due to results obtained by stomach probe it was possible to determine the size of each individual, turning this method very useful to cephalopods, but also to other species such as fish.

Squid distribution. Thick coloured lines are the oceanic fronts, green: Subtropical front, red: Subantarctic front, white: Antarctic Polar Front. Slim white line represent the foraging trips of the albatrosses.
Graph obtained from Stomach Probes.

[1] Oceanic fronts – oceanic zones that divide water areas with different characteristics, such as temperature.


Source: Pereira JM, Paiva VH & Xavier JC (2017) Using seabirds to map the distribution of elusive pelagic cephalopod species, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 567: 257-262. doi: 10.3354/meps12020

Author: José Queirós


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