Coastal dolphins provide foraging opportunities to benthic-feeding seabirds in a tropical seagrass ecosystem.

by Eric A. Ramos, Jeremy J. Kiszka, Diana Reiss, and Marcelo O. Magnasco

is now out in Behaviour. (Open access is being processed)

In marine ecosystems, predators can affect community and ecosystem dynamics through a variety of processes such as foraging facilitation. Here, we report evidence of foraging facilitation between common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and double-crested cormorants (Nannopterum auritum) in the Caribbean seagrass-dominated atoll of Turneffe, Belize using aerial drone observations conducted in 2015-2017. While dolphins exhibited occasional aggressive behaviours toward the cormorants, the latter frequently followed dolphin movements, suggesting opportunistic pursuit of dolphins for prey access during dolphin bottom foraging activity. Our observations underscore the intricate ecological relationships among marine predators and highlight the need to quantify the mutual benefits and costs of such interactions as coastal ecosystems are rapidly changing.

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