Overwinter movement of Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) breeding in the Gulf of Maine

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University of New Brunswick


Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) are pelagic seabirds that breed on offshore islands throughout the North Atlantic. Following the breeding season, puffins spend the nonbreeding months at sea and there is a knowledge gap regarding the factors affecting populations away from the colony. I used geolocators to determine the nonbreeding locations of North American puffins breeding on three islands in the Gulf of Maine, examining differences between colonies and within the largest colony. I also examined using stable isotopes in claw tissue to determine general overwinter position. Puffins sampled in this study typically remained in the Gulf of Maine before moving south in the late winter, though some visited waters around Newfoundland during the autumn. Movement patterns were similar among birds within and between colonies. Attempts to use stable isotope analysis of claw tissue to determine overwinter location were inhibited by the similarity of routes among sampled birds.