Subadult seabirds ‘prospect’, or visit breeding colonies to evaluate reproductive success, identify suitable habitats, and assess potential partners; however, prospector biology is poorly understood. I explored prospector biology to understand post-natal seabird dispersal and recruitment decisions using Least (Aethia pusilla) and Crested Auklets (A. cristatella). Here, I document auklet colony attendance, behaviour, and reproductive success and use this foundation to examine the timing of colony attendance by prospecting subadult auklets. Subadult auklets were found to spend much less time socializing than expected and their attendance at the colony appeared to be independent of reproductive success as it was restricted to the incubation period. This study is the first to document differences in adult and subadult behaviour of auklets and attempt to understand patterns of subadult colony attendance and serves as a significant first step towards understanding patterns of subadult recruitment.
In addition to my thesis research, my research team also documented the fluorescence of Crested Auklet bill plates. This was an exciting and unexpected discovery as genetic evidence suggests UV sensitive vision is rare among marine birds. Our paper was featured on Audubon and A Traveller’s Guide to Feathers!
My talented campmates put together a a beautiful music video illustrating life at Gareloi.