Year-round distribution, activity patterns and habitat use of a poorly studied pelagic seabird, the fluttering shearwater Puffinus gavia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We present the first study to examine the year-round distribution, activity patterns, and habitat use of one of New Zealand’s most common seabirds, the fluttering shearwater (Puffinus gavia). Seven adults from Burgess Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, and one individual from Long Island, in the Marlborough Sounds, were successfully tracked with combined light-saltwater immersion loggers for one to three years. Our tracking data confirms that fluttering shearwaters employ different overwintering dispersal strategies, where three out of eight individuals, for at least one of the three years when they were being tracked, crossed the Tasman Sea to forage over coastal waters along eastern Tasmania and southeastern Australia. Resident birds stayed confined to waters of northern and central New Zealand year-round. Although birds frequently foraged over pelagic shelf waters, the majority of tracking locations were found over shallow waters close to the coast. All birds foraged predominantly in daylight and frequently visited the colony at night throughout the year. We found no significant inter-seasonal differences in the activity patterns, or between migratory and resident individuals. Although further studies of inter-colony variation in different age groups will be necessary, this study presents novel insights into year-round distribution, activity patterns and habitat use of the fluttering shearwater, which provide valuable baseline information for conservation as well as for further ecological studies.


  • Martin Berg
  • Jannie F. Linnebjerg
  • Graeme Taylor
  • Stefanie M.H. Ismar-Rebitz
  • Mike Bell
  • Chris P. Gaskin
  • Susanne Åkesson
  • Matt J. Rayner
External organisations
  • Lund University
  • Aarhus University
  • Department of Conservation, Waikato Conservancy
  • GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
  • Wildlife Management International Limited
  • Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust
  • University of Auckland
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0219986
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch