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Hunt, G.L., Jr., C.L. Baduini, and J. Jahncke. 2002. Diets of Short-tailed shearwaters in the Southeastern Bering Sea. Deep Sea Research II 49(26): 6147-6156.

In the late 1990s, the southeastern Bering Sea exhibited a number of anomalous conditions, including a major die-off of short-tailed shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris), a trans-equatorial migrant that constitutes a major portion of the marine bird biomass in the southeastern Bering Sea. As part of a larger study of the ecological role of the inner or structural front over the southeastern Bering Sea shelf, in 19971999, we collected short-tailed shearwaters to determine diet composition. In spring 1997, we found that short-tailed shearwaters were consuming predominately the euphausiid Thysanoessa raschii, a diet expected on the basis of past studies. However, in subsequent years, short-tailed shearwater diets in spring contained increasingly larger proportions of fish, in particular, sandlance (Ammodytes hexapterus), as well as other species of euphausiids (T. inermis in 1999). In summer and fall collections, short-tailed shearwater diets were more varied than in spring, and included both fish (age-0 gadids, 2135% by weight) and a wider variety of euphausiid species (T. inermis and T. spinifera). In summer and fall, crab zoea (August 1998) and copepods (August 1999) were eaten by shearwaters collected while feeding within the inner front. Diets in 19971999 were broader than those found in previous studies of short-tailed shearwaters over the inner shelf and Bristol Bay, which had documented diets composed almost solely of T. raschii. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that euphausiids were less available to short-tailed shearwaters foraging over the middle and coastal domains of the southeastern Bering Sea in 19971999 than has previously been true. Our results are also consistent with hypothesis that the inner front can affect the availability of prey to shearwaters.

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