Unlike conspecifics in the subantarctic region, which typically begin breeding in mid-spring to summer, Common Diving-petrels Pelecanoides urinatrix urinatrix in southeastern Australia (towards the northern limit of the species' distribution) commence breeding mid winter. Knowledge of the foraging ecology of this species is crucial to understanding the factors that influence its timing of breeding in the region, yet there is currently little information available. Analysis of 43 stomachs of breeding adults, collected opportunistically after they were killed in a fire which burned through their colony, indicated that their diet was dominated by two taxa: a euphausiid Nyctiphanes australis which comprised 87% of the diet by number; and a hyperiid amphipod Themisto australis which constituted a further 12.5%. Mean lengths (±SE) of N. australis (n = 39) and T. australis (n = 41) were 12 mm (±0.3) and 5.2 mm (±0.2), respectively. The importance of N. australis in the diet of Common Diving-petrels is discussed in relation to their timing of breeding and the euphausiid's potential role in the Bass Strait pelagic ecosystem.
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Vol. 31 • No. 4