Intraspecific Kleptoparasitism and Foraging Efficiency as Constraints on Food Selectin by Kelp Gulls Larus Dominicanus

  • Philip A. R. Hockey
  • William K. Steele
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 20)


Kleptoparasitism (food-stealing) is widespread among birds and is an important feeding technique of some families of seabirds, notably Fregatidae (frigatebirds), Chionididae (sheathbills), Stercoraridae (skuas) and Laridae (gulls and terns), being reported for more than 25% of species within these families (Brockmann and Barnard 1979). A useful axis along which to divide the behaviour between species is a ‘specialist-opportunist’ continuum. No seabird species is known to be an obligate kleptoparasite, but specialists, such as skuas and frigatebirds, obtain a large proportion of their food by kleptoparasitism of heterospecifics. It has been suggested that they may possess structural adaptations associated with these feeding techniques (Brockmann and Barnard 1979), although the evidence for this is weak (Furness 1987). All kleptoparasitic species steal food from other species, but several opportunistic kleptoparasites, such as gulls and terns, also practise this behaviour intraspecifically (e. g. Hopkins and Wiley 1972; Hulsman 1976; Verbeek 1977a,b; Rockwell 1982; Greig et al 1983; Hockey et al. in press). In a recent review, Furness (1987) concluded that such opportunistic kleptoparasites were as successful at stealing food as were specialist kleptoparasites.


Handling Time Young Bird Prey Choice Herring Gull Kelp Gull 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barash DP, Donovan P, Myrick R (1975) Clam dropping behaviour of the Glaucous- winged Gull ( Larus glaucescens ). Wilson Bull 87: 60–64Google Scholar
  2. Barnard CJ 1984 The evolution of food-scrounging strategies within and between species. In: Barnard CJ (ed) Producers and scroungers: strategies of exploitation and parasitism. Croom Helm, London, p 95Google Scholar
  3. Barnard CJ, Sibly RM (1981) Producers and scroungers: a general model and its application to captive flocks of House Sparrows. Anim Behav 29: 543–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bergman G (1982) Population dynamics, colony formation and competition in Larus argentatus, fuscus and marinus in the archipelago of Finland. Ann Zool Fennici 19: 143–164Google Scholar
  5. Brockmann HJ, Barnard CJ (1979) Kleptoparasitism in birds. Anim Behav 27: 487–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burger J, Gochfeld M (1981) Age-related differences in piracy behaviour of four species of gulls, Larus. Behaviour 77: 242–267Google Scholar
  7. Crawford RJM, Cooper J, Shelton PA (1982) Distribution, population size, breeding and conservation of the Kelp Gull in southern Africa. Ostrich 53: 164–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davis JWF (1975) Specialization of feeding location by Herring Gulls. J Anim Ecol 44: 795–804CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dawkins R, Krebs JR (1979) Arms races between and within species. Proc Roy Soc Lond B 205: 489–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duffy DC, Heseltine S, La Cock GD (1987) Food size and aggressive interactions between two species of gulls: an experimental approach to resource partitioning. Ostrich 58: 164–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fuchs E (1977) Kleptoparasitism of Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis by Black- headed Gulls Larus ridibundus. Ibis 119: 183–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Furness RW (1987) Kleptoparasitism in seabirds. In: Croxall JP (ed) Seabirds: feeding ecology and role in marine ecosystems. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, P77Google Scholar
  13. Gauthreaux SA Jr (1978) The ecological significance of behavioural dominance. In: Bateson PPG, Klopfer PH (eds) Perspectives in ethology, vol. 3. Plenum Press, New York, p 17Google Scholar
  14. Grant PR (1971) Interactive behaviour of puffins Fratercula arctica L. and skuas Stercorarius parasiticus L. Behaviour 40: 263–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Greig S, Coulson JC, Monaghan P (1983) Age-related differences in foraging success in the Herring Gull Larus argentatus. Anim Behav 31: 1237–1243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Harrison P (1983) Seabirds: an identification guide. Croom Helm, BeckenhamGoogle Scholar
  17. Hockey PAR (1988) Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus as predators in kelp Macrocystis pyrifera beds. Oecologia 76: 155–157Google Scholar
  18. Hockey PAR, Ryan PG, Bosman AL (to be published) Age-related intraspecific kleptoparasitism and foraging success in Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus. ArdeaGoogle Scholar
  19. Hopkins CD, Wiley RH (1972) Food parasitism and competition in two terns. Auk 89: 583–594Google Scholar
  20. Horton N, Brough T, Rochard JBA (1983) The importance of refuse tips to gulls wintering in an inland area of south-east England. J Appl Ecol 20: 751–765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hulsman K (1976) The robbing behaviour of terns and gulls. Emu 76: 143–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ingolfsson A, Estrella JT (1978) The development of shell-cracking behaviour in Herring Gulls. Auk 95: 577–579Google Scholar
  23. Kallander H (1977) Piracy by Black-headed Gulls on Lapwings. Bird Study 24: 186–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kushlan JA (1978) Non-rigorous foraging by robbing egrets. Ecology 59: 649–653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lack D (1967) Interrelationships in breeding adaptations as shown by marine birds. Proc Int Orn Congr 14: 3–42Google Scholar
  26. Lack D (1968) Ecological adaptations for breeding in birds. Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Monaghan P (1980) Dominance and dispersal between feeding sites in the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus). Anim Behav 28: 521–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Moyle P (1966) Feeding behaviour of the Glaucous-winged Gull on an Alaskan salmon stream. Wilson Bull 78: 175–190Google Scholar
  29. Nettleship DN (1972) Breeding success of the Common Puffin Fratercula arctica L. on different habitats at Great Island, Newfoundland. Ecol Monogr 42: 239–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rockwell ED (1982) Intraspecific food-robbing in Glaucous-winged Gulls. Wilson Bull 94: 282–288Google Scholar
  31. Rohwer S (1975) The social significance of avian winter plumage variability. Evolution 29: 593–610CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rohwer S, Rohwer FC (1978) Status signalling in Harris Sparrows: experimental deceptions achieved. Anim Behav 26: 1012–1022CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rothschild M, Clay T (1952) Fleas, flukes and cuckoos. Collins, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. Speakman JR (1987) Apparent absorption efficiencies for Redshank (Tringa totanus L.) and Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus L.): implications for the predictions of optimal foraging models. Amer Natur 130: 677–691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tarifeno-Silva E (1980) Studies on the biology of the surf clam Mesodesma donacium (Lamarck, 1818 ) ( Bivalvia: Mesodesmatidae) from Chilean sandy beaches. Unpubl. PhD thesis, University of California, Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  36. Thompson DBA (1983) Prey assessment by plovers (Charadriidae): net rate of energy intake and vulnerability to kleptoparasites. Anim Behav 31: 1226–1236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Thompson DBA (1986) The economics of kleptoparasitism: optimal foraging, host and prey selection by gulls. Anim Behav 34: 1189–1205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ulfstrand S (1979) Age and plumage associated differences of behaviour among Blackheaded Gulls Larus ridibundus: foraging success, conflict victoriousness and reaction to disturbance. Oikos 33: 1601–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Verbeek NAM (1977a) Interactions between Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls feeding on refuse. Auk 94: 726–735Google Scholar
  40. Verbeek NAM (1977b) Comparative feeding behaviour of immature and adult Herring Gulls. Wilson Bull 89: 415–421Google Scholar
  41. Verbeek NAM (1977c) Age differences in the digging frequency of Herring Gulls on a dump. Condor 79: 123–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Verbeek NAM (1977d). Comparative feeding ecology of Herring Gulls Larus argentatus and Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus. Ardea 65: 25–42Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip A. R. Hockey
    • 1
  • William K. Steele
    • 1
  1. 1.Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African OrnithologyUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations