Space Partitioning Without Territoriality in Gannets

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Abstract

Colonial breeding is widespread among animals. Some, such as eusocial insects, may use agonistic behavior to partition available foraging habitat into mutually exclusive territories; others, such as breeding seabirds, do not. We found that northern gannets, satellite-tracked from 12 neighboring colonies, nonetheless forage in largely mutually exclusive areas and that these colony-specific home ranges are determined by density-dependent competition. This segregation may be enhanced by individual-level public information transfer, leading to cultural evolution and divergence among colonies.

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