Dovekie (Alle alle) parents feed their chicks almost exclusively with high energy Arctic zooplankton associated with cold polar waters. In years with a stronger influx of warm Atlantic waters (positive NAO index) in their traditional feeding grounds, they may be forced to forage in suboptimal feeding areas. We compared the Dovekie chick diet in Hornsund (Spitsbergen) in the early, mid and late phases of the chick-rearing period in two seasons with different distributions of cold (Arctic) and warm (Atlantic) water masses. Parents delivered to their chicks food loads of lower wet weight (in the mid and late phase) and lower energetic value (in the late phase) under warm water conditions compared to colder water conditions. This suggests worse foraging conditions for Dovekies and foraging in suboptimal feeding areas during warm water events. However, data from the mid phase showed that Dovekies are able to compensate by increasing the number of daily feedings. In this phase, chicks received the same amount of food (by mass and energy) as in cold years. It is unknown how large the inflow of Atlantic water can be before it has negative implications for adult Dovekie daily time budget, body condition, survival rate, their breeding success and fitness.
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Vol. 30 • No. 3