Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name



Biological Sciences


Arctic Seaduck;Breeding;Energetics;Movement;Spatial Ecology;Time Budget


Oliver Love


Holly Hennin



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Migratory species breeding in polar environments face highly seasonal conditions and significant temporal and spatial constraints which can limit their ability to reproduce successfully. Effective energetic management is especially important at high latitudes, where a shortened breeding season and variable spring climatic conditions can restrict seasonal food availability, impact ability to initiate reproduction and successfully raise offspring. We explored this paradigm in marine benthic foraging common eiders (Somateria mollissima), at a long-term studied colonial nesting site at East Bay (Mitivik) Island, Nunavut, Canada. Eiders rely on marine prey to gain the energy necessary to invest in reproduction when arriving at spring breeding grounds. To successfully breed, females must gain energetic stores quickly to invest in egg production and to fuel a fasted incubation period prior to duckling hatching. As such, variation in spatiotemporal movement and foraging behaviour which provides access to required resources while minimizing energetic costs should be key predictors of successful breeding. To examine how and what it takes for a female eider to successfully breed in the Arctic, we integrated GPS biologging technology to explore variability in behaviours and energetic time budgets across the breeding season. We also explored foraging distance metrics, and how breeding stage and body condition might impact spatial and temporal use of the landscape. We then examined whether spatial use and foraging hot spots varied inter-annually and under changing temporal constraints, and whether spatial use may impact energetic management for breeding and non-breeding individuals differently. Understanding and quantifying intra- and inter-individual variation in foraging decisions during this life history stage provides critical missing information on the proximate mechanisms driving breeding investment decisions within the context of a stochastic environment. By extension, this thesis will evaluate how pre-laying foraging decisions ultimately impact fitness and survival and support critical habitat selection to inform on the development of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) around Southampton Island, Nunavut.

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