Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Massachusetts Project

Foraging ecology of auks at their southern range boundary

September 2007 - December 2011


Participating Agencies

  • National Audubon Society

Matinicus Rock, Maine, supports a diversity of auks, including the southernmost breeding colonies of Atlantic puffins and razorbills, black guillemots, and potentially common murres. Understanding the foraging ecology and at-sea distribution of these species is critical because they serve as indicators of change in the marine environment, and likely forage in waters off of Massachusetts during the non-breeding season, and possibly while feeding chicks. To date, most seabird studies have been conducted within colonies, but recent advances in technology allow us to track birds at sea using satellite telemetry. We will combine analyses of food items brought to chicks, with telemetry locations, in order to better understand the foraging ecology of auks nesting at the southern limit of their distribution. Our results should help managers identify foraging sites of razorbills, help guide placement of offshore wind turbines to minimize impacts to the birds, and perhaps anticipate changes in feeding sites in response to global climate warming.