We investigated prey consumption by marine birds and their contribution to cross-shelf fluxes in the northern Gulf of Alaska. We utilized data from the North Pacific Pelagic Seabird Database for modeling energy demand and prey consumption. We found that prey consumption by marine birds was much greater over the continental shelf than it was over the basin. Over the shelf, subsurface-foraging marine birds dominated food consumption, whereas over the basin, surface-foraging birds took the most prey biomass. Daily consumption by marine birds during the non-breeding season ("winter") from September through April was greater than daily consumption during the breeding season, between May and August. Over the shelf, shearwaters, murres and, in winter, sea ducks, were the most important consumers. Over the basin, northern fulmars, gulls and kittiwakes predominated in winter and storm-petrels dominated in May to August. Our results suggest that marine birds contribute little to cross-shelf fluxes of energy or matter, but they do remove energy from the marine system through consumption, respiration and migration. ?? 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Prey consumption and energy transfer by marine birds in the Gulf of Alaska