Our Puffin Project started on Skomer Island in 2007, when we deployed light-loggers combined with a seawater immersion switch on breeding adult puffins Fratercula arctica for the first time. The data collected since then from these devices showed an unexpected migratory behaviour which challenges the conventional views of navigational control of avian migration, i.e. genetic or cultural inheritance. Indeed, the puffins seem to have a very dispersive migration, with individuals overwintering in completely different areas of the North Atlantic, some puffins spending the winter near the British coasts, other going near Greenland and others to the Mediterranean Sea, as showed in a recent paper:
Guilford, T., R. Freeman, D. Boyle, Dean B.J., H. Kirk, R. A. Phillips, and C. M. Perrins. "A dispersive migration in the Atlantic Puffin and its implications for migratory navigation." PLoS One (2011).
We are currently interested in the mechanisms underlying these strikingly different migratory strategies, and in investigating the route fidelity of individuals, as well as their timing of migration and possible stop-over areas. We are also keen to address questions regarding the nature of the juveniles’ overwintering behaviour and its importance in the determination of adult migration, and the incubation strategy and life-history of breeding individuals. Furthermore, as for the Manx shearwater, we are also interested in the patterns of activity at the nest throughout the breeding season.