Interspecific variation in non-breeding aggregation: a multi-colony tracking study of two sympatric seabirds

Buckingham, Lila; Bogdanova, Maria I.; Green, Jonathan A.; Dunn, Ruth E.; Wanless, Sarah; Bennett, Sophie; Bevan, Richard M.; Call, Andrew; Canham, Michael; Corse, Colin J.; Harris, Michael P.; Heward, Christopher J.; Jardine, David C.; Lennon, Jim; Parnaby, David; Redfern, Chris P.F.; Scott, Liz; Swann, Robert L.; Ward, Robin M.; Weston, Ewan D.; Furness, Robert W.; Daunt, Francis ORCID: 2022 Interspecific variation in non-breeding aggregation: a multi-colony tracking study of two sympatric seabirds. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 684. 181-197.

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Migration is a widespread strategy for escaping unfavourable conditions during winter, but the extent to which populations that segregate during the breeding season aggregate during the non-breeding season is poorly understood. Low non-breeding season aggregation may be associated with higher likelihood of overlap with threats, but with fewer populations affected, whereas high aggregation may result in a lower probability of exposure to threats, but higher overall severity. We investigated non-breeding distributions and extent of population aggregation in 2 sympatrically breeding auks. We deployed geolocation-immersion loggers on common guillemots Uria aalge and razorbills Alca torda at 11 colonies around the northern UK and tracked their movements across 2 non-breeding seasons (2017-18 and 2018-19). Using 290 guillemot and 135 razorbill tracks, we mapped population distributions of each species and compared population aggregation during key periods of the non-breeding season (post-breeding moult and mid-winter), observing clear interspecific differences. Razorbills were largely distributed in the North Sea, whereas guillemot distributions were spread throughout Scottish coastal waters and the North, Norwegian and Barents Seas. We found high levels of aggregation in razorbills and a strong tendency for colony-specific distributions in guillemots. Therefore, razorbills are predicted to have a lower likelihood of exposure to marine threats, but more severe potential impact due to the larger number of colonies affected. This interspecific difference may result in divergent population trajectories, despite the species sharing protection at their breeding sites. We highlight the importance of taking whole-year distributions into account in spatial planning to adequately protect migratory species.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 0171-8630
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: migration, non-breeding, populations, seabirds, spatial planning, light-level geolocation, Alca torda, Uria aalge
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 29 Mar 2022 16:02 +0 (UTC)

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