Regional and annual variation in black-legged kittiwake breeding productivity is related to sea surface temperature

Frederiksen, Morten; Edwards, Martin; Mavor, Roderick A.; Wanless, Sarah. 2007 Regional and annual variation in black-legged kittiwake breeding productivity is related to sea surface temperature. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 350. 137-143.

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Spatiotemporal variation in seabird demographic parameters is often pronounced and may be an important source of information on the state of marine ecosystems. Black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla in Britain and Ireland show strong regional structure in breeding productivity, and both temporal and spatial variation are probably related to abundance of the principal prey of breeding kittiwakes, the lesser sandeel Ammodytes marinus. Annual regional estimates of sandeel abundance do not exist, prohibiting direct tests of this hypothesis. We examined relationships between kittiwake breeding productivity and 2 potential proxies of sandeel abundance, winter sea surface temperature (SST) and abundance of Calanus copepods, within and among 6 regions in Britain and Ireland from 1986 to 2004. Means and trends in winter SST differed among regions, with higher means and less pronounced increasing trends in western (Atlantic) regions than in eastern (North Sea) regions. A negative relationship between breeding productivity and winter SST in the previous year was found within 2 regions (East Scotland and Orkney), as well as in a cross-regional analysis. Results were inconclusive for Calanus abundance, with a positive relationship in East Scotland and negative in Orkney. These results demonstrate that although a single environmental driver (SST) is related to both within- and between-region variation in a key demographic parameter, regional heterogeneity in SST trends as well as the importance of other factors may lead to highly variable responses. Understanding this heterogeneity is critical for predicting long-term effects of climate change or other anthropogenic drivers on marine ecosystems.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Watt
ISSN: 0171-8630
Additional Keywords: kittiwakes, spatial population dynamics, ocean climate, seabirds, sandeels, Rissa tridactyla, Ammodytes marinus
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 18 Jan 2008 12:03 +0 (UTC)

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