Does prey capture induce area-restricted search? A fine-scale study using GPS in a marine predator, the wandering albatross

Am Nat. 2007 Nov;170(5):734-43. doi: 10.1086/522059. Epub 2007 Sep 11.


In a patchy environment, predators are expected to increase turning rate and start an area-restricted search (ARS) when prey have been encountered, but few empirical data exist for large predators. By using GPS loggers with devices measuring prey capture, we studied how a marine predator adjusts foraging movements at various scales in relation to prey capture. Wandering albatrosses use two tactics, sit and wait and foraging in flight, the former tactic being three times less efficient than the latter. During flight foraging, birds caught large isolated prey and used ARS at scales varying from 5 to 90 km, with large-scale ARS being used only by young animals. Birds did not show strong responses to prey capture at a large scale, few ARS events occurred after prey capture, and birds did not have high rates of prey capture in ARS. Only at small scales did birds increase sinuosity after prey captures for a limited time period, and this occurred only after they had caught a large prey item within an ARS zone. When this species searches over a large scale, the most effective search rule was to follow a nearly straight path. ARS may be used to restrict search to a particular environment where prey capture is more predictable and profitable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Indian Ocean
  • Predatory Behavior*