We attached 11 g (1.4% body-mass equivalent) global location sensing (GLS) archival tag packages to tarsi of 25 breeding sooty shearwaters (Puffinus griseus, titi) on Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), New Zealand during the chick-rearing period in 2005. Compared with chicks reared by non-handled adults that did not carry tags, deployment of tags on one or both adult parents ultimately resulted in 35% reduction in chick body mass and significantly reduced chick skeletal size preceding fledging (19 April). However, body mass between chick groups was not significantly different after controlling for skeletal size. Effects on chicks were more pronounced in six pairs where both parents carried tags. Chick mass was negatively related to the duration that adults carried tags. In this study, none of the chicks reared by pairs where both parents were tagged, 54% of chicks reared by pairs where one parent was tagged, and 83% of chicks reared by non-handled and non-tagged parents achieved a previously determined pre-fledging mass threshold (564 g; Sagar & Horning 1998). Body mass of adults carrying tags and returning from transequatorial migration the following year were 4% lighter on average than non-tagged birds, but this difference was not statistically significant. Reduced mass among chicks reared by adults carrying tags during the chick-provisioning period indicated that adults altered "normal" provisioning behaviours to maintain their own body condition at the expense of their chicks. Population-level information derived from telemetry studies can reveal important habitat-linked behaviours, unique aspects of seabird foraging behaviours, and migration ecology. Information for some species (e.g., overlap with fisheries) can aid conservation and marine ecosystem management. We advise caution, however, when interpreting certain data related to adult provisioning behaviours (e.g., time spent foraging, provisioning rates, etc.). If effects on individuals are of concern, we suggest shorter-term deployments, smaller and lighter tags, and alternative attachment techniques, especially when investigating threatened or endangered species. ?? The Royal Society of New Zealand 2009.
Additional publication details
Effects of geolocation archival tags on reproduction and adult body mass of sooty shearwaters (Puffinus griseus)