Glaucous Gulls Kleptoparasiting Arctic Foxes in Magdalenefjorden, NW Spitsbergen

  • Lech Stempniewicz
  • Lech Iliszko
Keywords: glaucous gull, Larus hyperboreus, arctic fox, Vulpes lagopus, kleptoparasitism, Magdalenefjorden, NW Spitsbergen

Abstract

Observations were made of glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus) stealing little auks (Alle alle) stored in a den by arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) in Magdalenefjorden, northwest Spitsbergen. Before stealing the spoil, the gulls observed and followed foxes transporting little auks hunted in a nearby colony. Skill in detecting and successfully taking over the food cached by arctic foxes may help glaucous gulls to survive critical periods of lowered prey availability and enhanced energy demands, such as the little auk incubation period, when the auks are well hidden in the nests and inaccessible for gulls feeding their own large nestlings. These observations are the first documented instances of the glaucous gulls kleptoparasiting arctic foxes and provide additional evidence of the complex nature of interactions occurring between these two opportunistic Arctic predators.

Published
2010-03-22