Olfactory foraging strategies of procellariiform seabirds

White-faced Storm-petrel (Pelagodroma marina) Science Article 1


The study of olfactory foraging ability in procellariiform seabirds is now beginning to explore how species aremorphologically and behaviorally adapted to track odor plumes, and to relate these findings to models of odor transport innatural situations. According to the models, odors in atmospheric flow tend to be dispersed laterally and downwind inturbulent plumes. Because turbulent transport processes operate more rapidly than molecular diffusion, plumes of airborneodors have an irregular, patchy distribution of concentrations. For a foraging seabird, tracking the distribution of highconcentration, scented eddies over the ocean to a source is thus a complex problem. This paper explores this topic, first byreviewing current understanding of olfactory foraging by procellariiform seabirds at large and small spatial scales. I then discussdifferent behavioral mechanisms that procellariiform species use to track odors, and show that adaptive solutions to thisproblem vary considerably between species, depending on olfactory ability and flight style. I also review how differentolfactory and visual modalities mediate intra- and inter-specific interactions between foraging seabirds at small spatial scales.

Gabrielle A. Nevitt, Acta Zoologica Sinica 52(Supplement): 510-513, 2006

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