Data from: The diet of a nocturnal pelagic predator, the Bulwer’s petrel, across the lunar cycle
Waap, S. et al. (2018), Data from: The diet of a nocturnal pelagic predator, the Bulwer’s petrel, across the lunar cycle, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.tp846
The lunar cycle is believed to strongly influence the vertical distribution of many oceanic taxa, with implications for the foraging behaviour of nocturnal marine predators. Most studies to date testing lunar effects on foraging have focused on predator activity at-sea, with some birds and marine mammals demonstrating contrasting behavioural patterns, depending on the lunar-phase. However, to date no study has focused on how the lunar cycle might actually affect predator-prey interactions in the upper layers of the ocean. Here, we tested whether the diet of the predominantly nocturnal pelagic predator, the Bulwer’s petrel (Bulweria bulwerii) would change throughout the lunar cycle, using molecular analysis to augment detection and taxonomic resolution of prey collected from stomach-contents. We found no evidence of dietary shifts in species composition or diversity, with Bulwer’s petrel always consuming a wide range of mesopelagic species. Other co-variables potentially affecting light availability at-sea, such as percentage of cloud cover, did not confound our results. Moreover, many of the species found are thought not to reach the sea-surface. Our findings reveal that nocturnal predators are probably more specialized than previously assumed, irrespective of ambient-light, but also reveal deficiencies in our current understanding of species vertical distribution and predation-dynamics at-sea.