Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 4, pp 827–836 | Cite as

Wintering areas of adult Atlantic puffins Fratercula arctica from a North Sea colony as revealed by geolocation technology

  • Michael P. HarrisEmail author
  • Francis Daunt
  • Mark Newell
  • Richard A. Phillips
  • Sarah Wanless
Original Paper


Most seabirds die outside the breeding season, but understanding the key factors involved is hampered by limited knowledge of nonbreeding distributions. We used miniature geolocating loggers to examine the movements between breeding seasons of Atlantic puffins Fratercula arctica from a major North Sea colony where numbers have declined in recent years, apparently due to increased overwinter mortality. The most intensively used region was the northwestern North Sea but most puffins also made excursions into the east Atlantic in the early winter. Ringing recoveries previously indicated that adults from British east coast colonies remained within the North Sea and hence were spatially segregated from those breeding on the west throughout the year. Updated analyses of ringing recoveries support results from geolocators suggesting that usage of Atlantic waters is a recent phenomenon. We propose that the increased adult mortality is related to changes in distribution during the nonbreeding period and reflects worsening conditions in the North Sea.


Breeding Season Faeroe Island Nonbreeding Season Ringing Recovery Ringed Bird 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank J. Fox and V. Afansyev for geolocator device development, M. Bogdanova for help with post-processing data, M. Frederiksen for calculation of survival rates, S. Garthe, K. Kober and A. Webb for information on at-sea distributions, C. M. Perrins for supplying survival data from Skomer, J.-K. Jensen and B. Olsen for information on puffins in the Faeroes and C. J. McCarty, T. DiMarzio, Z. Eppley, D. A. Oehler, and S. Cruciger for information on captive auks. Scottish Natural Heritage allowed us to work on the Isle of May National Natures Reserve and the British Trust for Ornithology supplied the recoveries from their Ringing Scheme that is funded by a partnership of the British Trust for Ornithology, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (on behalf of Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Countryside Council for Wales, and also on behalf of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside in Northern Ireland), The National Parks and Wildlife Service (Ireland) and the ringers themselves. We thank three anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This research represents a contribution to the BAS Ecosystems Programme.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael P. Harris
    • 1
    Email author
  • Francis Daunt
    • 1
  • Mark Newell
    • 1
  • Richard A. Phillips
    • 2
  • Sarah Wanless
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology & HydrologyPenicuikUK
  2. 2.British Antarctic SurveyNatural Environment Research Council, High CrossCambridgeUK

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