Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society (1977) 24: 84- 93

The incidence, functions and ecological significance of petrel stomach oils

Research Article
John Warham  
  1. Department of Zoology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch

Recent research into the origins and compositions of the stomach oils unique to sea-birds of the order Procellariiformes is reviewed. The sources of these oils, most of which contain mainly wax esters and/or triglycerides, is discussed in relation to the presence of such compounds in the marine environment. A number of functions are proposed as the ecological roles of the oils, including their use as slowly-mobilisable energy and water reserves for adults and chicks and as defensive weaponry for surface-nesting species. suggestions are made for further research, particularly into physiological and nutritional aspects.