, Volume 35, Issue 11, pp 1753-1758
Date: 23 Jun 2012

Use of Deschampsia antarctica for nest building by the kelp gull in the Argentine Islands area (maritime Antarctica) and its possible role in plant dispersal

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Abstract

During the last 50 years, the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula and adjacent archipelagos, also known as the maritime Antarctic, has experienced notable climate warming. As a result, expansion of the local distributions of the two native species of vascular plants, Deschampsia antarctica Desv. and Colobanthus quitensis (Kunth.) Bartl., over previously unoccupied ground has been noted. Birds have been suggested to be partially responsible for this spread. The focus of the present study was to document the use of vascular plants in nest building by the kelp gull (Larus dominicanus) in the Argentine Islands region. During the 2009/2010 season, samples from kelp gull nests were collected and analyzed. Besides nests, material lost by birds during transfer was also studied. We demonstrate that, in the Argentine Islands region, Deschampsia antarctica and some bryophytes contribute the majority of nest building material for the kelp gull. Other materials, including lichens, gull feathers, and limpet shells, are used less frequently. The plants can reestablish upon transfer via vegetative or generative means. It thus seems that the kelp gull may potentially serve as a dispersal agent for Deschampsia antarctica.