Original Articles

Variability in the diet of the Cape gannet at Bird Island, Algoa Bay, South Africa

Published in: South African Journal of Marine Science
Volume 12, issue 1, 1992, pages: 761–771
DOI: 10.2989/02577619209504740

Abstract

Results are presented following a long-term study of the diet of the Cape gannet Morus capensis at Bird Island, Algoa Bay, examining 4 178 regurgitations representing 36 351 prey items collected during 12 breeding cycles from April 1979 to March 1991. In all, 32 teleost and two cephalopod species were recorded. The pelagic shoaling pilchard Sardinops ocellatus, anchovy Engraulis capensis and saury Scomberesox saurus scombroides were identified as the main prey species. The diet composition showed marked interannual fluctuations during the sampling period, which appear to be related to changes in the abundance of the main prey species. The relative abundance of pilchard, anchovy and saury was also found to change intra-annually, the first two species occurring more frequently in the diet during the breeding season and saury dominating the diet in the non-breeding season. These changes are thought to originate from temporal variation in the oceanographic regime within the foraging range of the gannets.

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