Sula nebouxii), masked boobies (Sula dactylatra), brown boobies (Sula leucogaster), and red-footed boobies (Sula sula) have been observed off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States (Florida and California) (Sibley, 2014). (Diaz, et al., 2011; Lee and Haney, 1984; Nelson, 1978; Sibley, 2014)species live in temperate, pantropical waters across the world. Although nonmigratory, boobies are widely distributed across marine and coastal areas in the Gulf of California, throughout the Caribbean Sea, along the Pacific coast to northern Peru, and west to the Galapagos Islands (Nelson, 1978). The species of are also found on small oceanic islands surrounded by temperate waters in seas north of Australia and throughout the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans (Lee and Haney, 1984). On rare occasions, blue-footed boobies (
The majority of Sula nebouxii) and red-footed boobies (Sula sula) are occasionally seen foraging in small groups off of rocky islets and shorelines near roosts (Cornell University, 2015). Each species has a unique habitat preference for nesting. The majority of species, excluding red-footed boobies, nest on open, minimally shaded ground. Red-footed boobies are the only arboreal nesters (Nelson, 1969). Different species can be found roosting in the same areas although territorial aggression between different species occurs, resulting in differences in nest site selection. For example, Blue-footed Boobies in the Galapagos Islands nest at coastal sites if Nazca boobies (Sula granti) are not present, but blue-footed boobies move further away from ideal nesting habitat when Nazca boobies are present (Townsend et al, 2002). ("Blue-footed Booby", 2015; Nelson, 1969; Nelson, 1978; Townsend, et al., 2002)species are solitary marine foragers that return from sea and roost on coral atolls, volcanic islands, coasts, and oceanic islands (Nelson, 1978). Blue-footed boobies (
Sula sula) exhibits color polymorphism, with up to five different color morphs (brown, white, black-tailed white, white-tailed brown, and white-headed brown) (Sibley, 2014). species have a variety of plumage colors ranging between white, brown and black. Juveniles tend to have darker brown and black plumage but, as hatchlings they are covered in white down feathers. The often colored (red, blue, gray, yellow, black) totipalmate feet (four webbed toes) of species are set far back on the body. Boobies have desmognathous palates with no exposed outside nares, and nasal grooves running down the stout, conical bill (Nelson, 1978). Adult boobies have bare facial and gular skin (Sibley, 2014). The featherless skin, bill, and feet are colored differently based on the species, which can be red, blue, gray, yellow, or black (Sibley, 2014). Boobies have binocular vision because each eye is situated on either side of the bill. The largest species is the masked booby (Sula dactylatra), with males ranging between 1220 and 2211 grams and females ranging between 1470 and 2400 grams ("Sula dactylatra (Masked Booby)", 2016). Red-footed boobies (Sula sula) are the smallest species, with males between 800 and 1160 grams and females between 850 and 1210 grams (Sibley, 2014 and Nelson, 1978). Boobies are most closely related to gannets (Morus), but have key differences between them. Gannets are monomorphic in size, are migratory, and have feathers extending forward of the eyes, while boobies are sexually dimorphic, sedentary, and have bare facial skin forward from the eyes. ("Sula dactylatra (Masked Booby)", 2016; Nelson, 1978; Sibley, 2014)species are medium to large birds (800 to 2400 g; 70 to 85 cm long) with wingspans up to five feet long (37.4 to 170 cm) (Nelson, 1978). Boobies are sexually dimorphic, with females generally being larger and weighing more than males. Only one species, the red-footed booby (
Boobies nest in colonies and their breeding season can last up to 40 weeks (Nelson, 1978). Breeding season is divided into four main stages: pre-laying, incubation, chick care and post breeding (Nelson, 1978). Pre-laying is comprised of defending nest territories and establishing adequate bonding pair relationships (Nelson, 1978). Clutch sizes range from 1 to 3 eggs (blue to white in color) (Nelson, 1978). Most boobies nest on the ground, excluding red-footed boobies, who nest in trees (Nelson, 1969). The incubation period lasts around 50 days, with both males and females alternating egg incubation (Nelson, 1978). Boobies do not have brooding patches and use their totipalmate feet to transfer heat to the eggs. g. Sula males that doubt the paternity of their egg are known to destroy all of the eggs in the nest (Diaz, Alfredo and Salazar Gomez, 2011).. g. Sula hatchlings are featherless and gradually gain white down feathers (Nelson, 1978). As juveniles, the plumage is dark brown to black (Nelson, 1978). Hatchlings are altricial and require male and female care for an average of 100 days, during which hatchlings are completely dependent on their parents for food and protection (Nelson, 1978). Both parents forage for food in the ocean and regurgitate semi-digested food into the hatchling’s mouth. Nestlings are vulnerable to predators like hawks and short-eared owls during the day when both parents are out foraging (Mellink, Dominguez and Luevano, 2000). In the Galapagos, adult Nazca boobies attack and injure blue-footed booby nestlings to prevent successful fledging (Townsend et al, 2002). (Diaz, et al., 2011; Mellink, et al., 2000; Nelson, 1969; Nelson, 1978; Townsend, et al., 2002)
Males and females take turns incubating the eggs by transferring heat from their totipalmate feet (Diaz, Alfredo, and Salazar Gomez, 2011). Each parent guards the nest through the night if the counterpart is out at sea foraging. Once the egg hatches, each parent forages for food for the nestlings (Nelson, 1978). The nestlings are under parental care for approximately 100 days, until they are mature enough to forage for themselves (Nelson, 1978). (Diaz, et al., 2011; Nelson, 1978)
The typical lifespan of boobies is 17 years to a maximum 30 years (Nelson, 1978). The oldest banded brown booby recorded was 27.2 years old (Longevity Records of North American Birds, 2017). Adult mortality rate for boobies is 5-10% (Nelson, 1978). Factors that limit their lifespan include predation on land and sea, pressures from commercial fishing, coastal development, and subsequent habitat destruction (National Geographic, 2018). ("Red-footed Booby", 2018; Nelson, 1978; "Longevity Records of North American Birds", 2017)
Boobies are social species that live and breed in colonies. Boobies are piscivores that forage solitarily, in small groups, or in large groups, depending on the species. ("Blue-footed Booby", 2015; Diaz, et al., 2011; Nelson, 1978)can dive up to 25 meters deep in the ocean for fish (Cornell University, 2015). Boobies pair up during mating season and perform elaborate rituals showcasing the feet, jabbing bills, and nodding the head (Nelson, 1978). Males of defend small nesting areas and are territorial during breeding season (Diaz, Alfredo and Salazar Gomez, 2011). Agonistic behavior occurs between blue-footed booby siblings (Diaz, Alfredo and Salazar Gomez, 2011). Larger offspring will peck their smaller siblings, causing parents to selectively feed the larger, more dominant (and healthy looking) offspring. This can lead to starvation and death of the smaller sibling (Diaz, Alfredo and Salazar Gomez, 2011). Boobies use calls and body language to communicate.
Cetengraulis mysticetyus and Engraulis mordax), sardines (Sardinops sagax), mackerels, flying fish (Exocoetidae), and squid (Loliginidae) (Mellink, Dominguez and Luevano, 2000; and Diaz, Alfredo, and Salazar Gomez, 2011). (Diaz, et al., 2011; Mellink, et al., 2000)species are piscivores that feed on small, pelagic shoaling fishes like anchovies (
Boobies are of economic importance to tourism industries around the globe. For example, blue-footed boobies frequent the Galapagos and are of interest to tourists. Tourists also visit red-footed boobies that nest on Caribbean islands. Scientists are interested in the ecology and ecosystem roles of boobies. These pelagic birds are indicator species of ocean and ecosystem health. Booby fecal matter, or guano, has historically been used as a crop fertilizer. The demand for guano has increased as a result of the price increase of synthetic fertilizers and upward trend favoring organic produce (Highfield, 2011). Guano is primarily collected on islands off the coast of Peru, and is shipped as far as Europe to fertilize different crops (Highfield, 2011). (Highfield, 2011)
There are no known adverse effects ofon humans.
Masked (Sula dactylatra), blue-footed (Sula nebouxii), brown (Sula leucogaster), and red-footed boobies (Sula sula) are protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act ("Migratory Bird Treaty Act", 2013). The IUCN Red List classifies all species in as species of least concern ("Sula dactylatra (Masked Booby)", 2016 and "Sula variegata (Peruvian Booby)", 2016). The population numbers of masked, brown, red-footed, and Nazca (Sula granti) boobies are decreasing according to the IUCN Red List. Abbott’s booby (Papasula abbotti), a species in the the sister genus of , Papasula, is listed on CITES, but no species are listed ("UNEP", 2018). Declines in populations are attributed to food scarcity caused by overfishing, and coastal habitat fragmentation and loss (National Geographic, 2018). ("Migratory Bird Treaty Act", 2013; "Sula dactylatra (Masked Booby)", 2016; "Sula variegata (Peruvian Booby)", 2016; "UNEP", 2018; "Red-footed Booby", 2018)
Species in ("Red-footed Booby", 2018)are thought to get their common name, “booby” from the Spanish word “bobo”. The term translates to “stupid” in English and is thought to be representative of the clumsy, goofy walk the booby exhibits on land (National Geographic, 2018).
Makenna Spencer (author), Colorado State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.
used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.
to jointly display, usually with sounds in a highly coordinated fashion, at the same time as one other individual of the same species, often a mate
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
parental care is carried out by males
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
An aquatic biome consisting of the open ocean, far from land, does not include sea bottom (benthic zone).
an animal that mainly eats fish
"many forms." A species is polymorphic if its individuals can be divided into two or more easily recognized groups, based on structure, color, or other similar characteristics. The term only applies when the distinct groups can be found in the same area; graded or clinal variation throughout the range of a species (e.g. a north-to-south decrease in size) is not polymorphism. Polymorphic characteristics may be inherited because the differences have a genetic basis, or they may be the result of environmental influences. We do not consider sexual differences (i.e. sexual dimorphism), seasonal changes (e.g. change in fur color), or age-related changes to be polymorphic. Polymorphism in a local population can be an adaptation to prevent density-dependent predation, where predators preferentially prey on the most common morph.
mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
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