Four millennia of long-term individual foraging site fidelity in a highly migratory marine predator

Eric J. Guiry, Margaretta James, Christina Cheung, Thomas C.A. Royle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Theory and field studies suggest that long-term individual foraging site fidelity (IFSF) may be an important adaptation to competition from increasing population. However, the driving mechanisms and extent of long-term IFSF in wild populations of long-lived, migratory animals has been logistically difficult to study, with only a few confirmed instances. Temporal isotopic datasets can reveal long-term patterns in geographical foraging behaviour. We investigate the isotopic compositions of endangered short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) over four millennia leading up to their near-extinction. Although not exhibited by short-tailed albatross today, we show past sub-populations displayed a high-degree of long-term IFSF, focusing on the same locations for hundreds of generations. This is the first large-scale evidence for the deep antiquity of long-term IFSF and suggests that it’s density-driven. Globally, as populations of species like short-tailed albatross continue to recover from overexploitation, potential for resurgence of geographic specialization may increase exposure to localized hazards, requiring closer conservation monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Article number368
Number of pages9
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2022


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