Tags reveal puffin food 'hotspot'

Thursday, July 08 2010 @ 11:27 AM EDT

Contributed by: jkr

By Mark Kinver
Science and environment reporter, BBC News

GPS tags revealed that puffins foraged closer to "home" than previously thought.

 

GPS devices fitted to puffins have offered a valuable insight into the daily feeding patterns of the seabirds.

Data revealed that the birds headed for foraging "hotspots" about 20 miles away, much closer than previously thought.

Researchers fitted the logging devices to 12 adult birds at England's largest puffin colony on the Farne Islands.

The team tagged the birds in an effort to find out why the islands' population crashed by 30% between 2003 and 2008.

The project's lead researcher, Richard Bevan from Newcastle University, said the technology had "come into its own" at the National Trust-owned site located off the Northumberland coastline.

"For the first time we can accurately pinpoint where puffins, kittiwakes and other seabirds are going to forage," he said.

"Knowing where these [species] go to feed is a vital factor in their survival."

Dr Bevan added that the data would help towards conserving and monitoring the feeding "hotspots", which in turn would provide a more secure future for the colony's birds.

More: news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10528822.stm

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