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    Distributions and predator-prey interactions of macaroni penguins, Antarctic fur seals, and Antarctic krill near Bird Island, South Georgia

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    Document Number:
    WG-CEMP-93/12
    Author(s):
    G.L. Hunt, Jr (USA), D. Heinemann (USA) and I. Everson (United Kingdom)
    Agenda Item(s)
    Abstract

    We studied the distributions, abundances and interactions of macaroni penguins Eudyptes chrysolophus, Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazella, and their zooplankton prey, in particular Antarctic hill Euphausia superba, near Bird Island, South Georgia, South Atlantic Ocean, in February 1986. Simultaneous surveys of marine birds, Antarctic fur seals and Antarctic krill were conducted along a series of transects radiating from the breeding colonies of the vertebrate predators. We examined the relationships between the distributions of predators and their prey with respect to the abundance of krill in the water column and marine habitats near the colonies. Antarctic fur seals and macaroni penguins showed positive correlations with Antarctic krill density across a wide range of spatial scales. Because krill was abundant dose to the colony and predator densities decreased with distance due to geometry, distance from colony was a confounding variable. When the influences of distance and direction on predator abundance were factored out, we were able to demonstrate an additional influence of Antarctic krill abundance at measurement scales between 10 and 100 km for Antarctic fur seals and for macaroni penguins at the scale of 70 to 100 km. Water depth was an important correlate of Antarctic krill and Antarctic fur seal abundances but not of the abundance of macaroni penguins. 'We found no evidence that the fur seals or macaroni penguins were concentrating their foraging for krill in the vicinity of the shelf-break.

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