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Spatiotemporal associations between Pacific herring spawn and surf scoter spring migration: evaluating a "silver wave" hypothesis

Marine Ecology Progress Series

By:
, ORCID iD , ORCID iD , , , , , and
https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09692

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Abstract

Surf scoters Melanitta perspicillata are sea ducks that aggregate at spawning events of Pacific herring Clupea pallasi and forage on the eggs, which are deposited in abundance during spring at discrete sites. We evaluated whether migrating scoters followed a ‘silver wave’ of resource availability, analogous to the ‘green wave’ of high-quality foraging conditions that herbivorous waterfowl follow during spring migration. We confirmed that herring spawning activity began later in the year at higher latitudes, creating a northward-progressing wave of short-term localized food availability. Using satellite telemetry and aerial surveys, we documented the chronology of scoter spring migration and the use of stopover locations in relation to herring spawn timing and locations. We found that the migration chronology paralleled the northward progression of herring spawning events. Although there was considerable variability in the timing of both scoter migration and the initiation of herring spawning, the processes were related beyond a coincidental northward progression. During migration, 60% of the tracked scoters visited at least 1 spawn site, and those that used spawn sites were located on spawn sites for approximately one-third of their migration locations. Surf scoters showed close spatiotemporal associations with herring spawning events, confirming that the presence of herring spawn was a factor determining habitat use for many individuals. Surf scoters showed close spatiotemporal associations with herring spawning events, confirming that the presence of herring spawn was a factor determining habitat use for many individuals, a conclusion that is consistent with previous studies which used physiologically based metrics to evaluate the importance of herring spawn.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Spatiotemporal associations between Pacific herring spawn and surf scoter spring migration: evaluating a "silver wave" hypothesis
Series title:
Marine Ecology Progress Series
DOI:
10.3354/meps09692
Volume:
457
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
Inter-Research
Contributing office(s):
Western Ecological Research Center
Description:
12 p.
First page:
139
Last page:
150
Country:
United States