Fig. 2 Number of prospecting trips (all studied species pooled) per sex and breeding stage
Fig. 2 Number of prospecting trips (all studied species pooled) per sex and breeding stage


Compared to other animal movements, prospecting by adult individuals for a future breeding site is commonly overlooked. Prospecting influences the decision of where to breed and has consequences on fitness and lifetime reproductive success. By analysing movements of 31 satellite- and GPS-tracked gull and tern populations belonging to 14 species in Europe and North America, we examined the occurrence and factors explaining prospecting by actively breeding birds. Prospecting in active breeders occurred in 85.7% of studied species, across 61.3% of sampled populations. Prospecting was more common in populations with frequent inter-annual changes of breeding sites and among females. These results contradict theoretical models which predict that prospecting is expected to evolve in relatively predictable and stable environments. More long-term tracking studies are needed to identify factors affecting patterns of prospecting in different environments and understand the consequences of prospecting on fitness at the individual and population level.



J Kralj, A Ponchon, D Oro, B Amadesi, J Arizaga, N Baccetti, T Boulinier, JG Cecere, RM Corcoran, AM Corman, L Enners, A Fleishman, S Garthe, D Grémillet,  A Harding, J Manuel Igual, L Jurinović, U Kubetzki, DE Lyons, R Orben, R Paredes, S Pirrello, B Recorbet, S Shafer, P Schwemmer, L Serra, A Spelt, G Tavecchia, J Tengeres, D Tome, C Williamson, S Windsor, HS Young, M Zenatello, R Fijn. Active breeding seabirds prospect alternative breeding colonies. Oecologia (2023).


Link to Paper:

Kralj et al. 2023



Thumbnail Photo Credit: Romina BM via Unsplash