The winter diet of the Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica around the Faroe Islands

M.P. Harris, M.F. Leopold, J. Jensen, H.W.G. Meesters, S. Wanless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Most mortality of Atlantic Puffins occurs outside the breeding season but little is known about the species’ diet at that time. The stomach contents of 176 Puffins shot legally for food around the Faroe Islands between October and January in three winters were examined. The remains of 20 species of fish, six species of crustacea and single species of polychaete, chaetognathid and squid were identified. The most frequently recorded prey in terms of frequency of occurrence were 0 group (<1 year old) Lesser Sandeel Ammodytes marinus (82% of stomachs), followed by mesopelagic fish (52%), nereid worms (41%), Silver Rockling Gaidropsarus argentatus (36%), crustacea (35%), large sandeel (32%) and other large fish (32%). In terms of calculated biomass, nereids (41%), large sandeel (23%) and other large fish (17%) made up the bulk of the diet but the latter two prey types were most important in energetic terms (46% despite accounting for only 9% of items). Stomach contents collected on the same day and location were significantly more similar than those collected on different dates and locations, suggesting that during the winter, Puffins are generalists, taking any prey they encounter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-479
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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