Black-legged kittiwake

Rob Suryan

Latin name: Rissa tridactyla

Black-legged kittiwakes spend most of their life at sea, even though during four months of the year they regularly return to land to nest. They are an abundant species in the high latitudes of the North Pacific Ocean and feed on zooplankton and small forage fish that they capture near the ocean surface. Dr. Rob Suryan’s studies of kittiwakes in Alaska have helped resource managers understand potential long-term impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and how short- and long-term changes in ocean climate affect prey populations and, ultimately, kittiwake reproductive success and population dynamics. 



Ainley, D. G., R. G. Ford, E. D. Brown, R. M. Suryan, and D. B. Irons. 2003. Prey resources, competition, and geographic structure of kittiwake colonies in Prince William Sound. Ecology 84:709-723.

Jodice, P. G. R., D. D. Roby, R. M. Suryan, D. B. Irons, A. M. Kaufman, K. R. Turco, and G. H. Visser. 2003. Variation in energy expenditure among black-legged kittiwakes: Effects of activity-specific metabolic rates and activity budgets. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 76:375-388  |  375-388.

Jodice, P. G. R., D. D. Roby, R. M. Suryan, D. B. Irons, K. R. Turco, E. D. Brown, J. F. Thedinga, and G. H. Visser. 2006a. Increased energy expenditure by a seabird in response to higher food abundance. Marine Ecology Progress Series 306:283-293.

Jodice, P. G. R., D. D. Roby, K. R. Turco, R. M. Suryan, D. B. Irons, J. F. Piatt, M. T. Shultz, D. G. Roseneau, and A. B. Kettle. 2008. Growth of black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla chicks in relation to delivery rate, size, and energy density of meals. Marine Ornithology 36:107-114.

Jodice, P. G. R., D. D. Roby, K. R. Turco, R. M. Suryan, D. B. Irons, J. F. Piatt, M. T. Shultz, D. G. Roseneau, A. B. Kettle, and J. A. Anthony. 2006b. Assessing the nutritional stress hypothesis: relative influence of diet quantity and quality on seabird productivity. Marine Ecology Progress Series 325:267-279.

McKnight, A., D. B. Irons, A. J. Allyn, K. M. Sullivan, and R. M. Suryan. 2011. Winter dispersal and activity patterns of post-breeding black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla from Prince William Sound, Alaska. Marine Ecology Progress Series 442:241-253.

Paredes, R., A. M. A. Harding, D. B. Irons, D. D. Roby, R. M. Suryan, R. A. Orben, H. Renner, R. Young, and A. Kitaysky. 2012. Proximity to multiple foraging habitats enhances seabirds' resilience to local food shortages. Marine Ecology Progress Series 471:253-269.

Paredes, R., R. A. Orben, R. M. Suryan, D. B. Irons, D. D. Roby, A. M. A. Harding, R. C. Young, K. Benoit-Bird, C. Ladd, H. Renner, S. Heppell, R. A. Phillips, and A. Kitaysky. 2014. Foraging responses of black-legged kittiwakes to prolonged food-shortages around colonies on the Bering Sea shelf. PLoS ONE 9:e92520.

Suryan, R. M., and D. B. Irons. 2001. Colony and population dynamics of black-legged kittiwakes in a heterogeneous environment. Auk 118:636-649  |  636.

Suryan, R. M., D. B. Irons, and J. Benson. 2000. Prey switching and variable foraging strategies of black-legged kittiwakes and the effect on reproductive success. Condor 102:374-384.

Suryan, R. M., D. B. Irons, E. D. Brown, P. G. R. Jodice, and D. D. Roby. 2006. Site-specific effects on productivity of an upper trophic-level marine predator: Bottom-up, top-down, and mismatch effects on reproduction in a colonial seabird. Progress in Oceanography 68:303-328.

Suryan, R. M., D. B. Irons, M. Kaufman, J. Benson, P. G. R. Jodice, D. D. Roby, and E. D. Brown. 2002. Short-term fluctuations in forage fish availability and the effect on prey selection and brood-rearing in the black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla. Marine Ecology Progress Series 236:273-287.