Marine Biology

, Volume 160, Issue 5, pp 1239–1248 | Cite as

Environmental variability and fledging body mass of Common Guillemot Uria aalge chicks

  • Robert T. BarrettEmail author
  • Kjell Einar Erikstad
Original Paper


To gain a better understanding of population processes and in the light of the critically endangered status of the Common Guillemot Uria aalge in Norway, we investigate which environmental factors might affect the fitness of guillemot chicks as they depart from the nest site over a 16-year period on a colony in NE Norway. Although prey composition did not seem to influence the fledging body mass of the chicks, there were significant relationships between the yearly variations in chick body mass and abundance of two important prey species (1-group herring Clupea harengus that is an important chick food item and 0-group cod Gadus morhua that is an important adult food item), population size and the sea surface temperature around the colony. The positive influence of young herring and cod on Common Guillemot chick mass occurred during a period of warming in the Barents Sea such that future recruitment into the population will depend partly on the long-term changes in ocean climate in the region.


Wing Length Chick Growth Adult Food Common Guillemot Chick Diet 
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.



The Norwegian Coastal Administration is thanked for the use of the lighthouse at Hornøya as a base for the fieldwork. We are also grateful to Håkon Dahlen (Tromsø Univ. Museum) and Thierry Boulinier (CNRS Montpellier) and his and many other co-workers over the years for their help in catching, weighing and measuring the chicks, to Tycho Anker-Nilssen and Svein-Håkon Lorentsen (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, NINA) for their comments on an early draft of the manuscript and to Tony Gaston (Environment Canada) and an anonymous referee for their comments on the submitted version. The study was financed by Tromsø University Museum, NINA, the Norwegian National Monitoring Programme for Seabirds and the Norwegian SEAPOP programme

Supplementary material

227_2013_2175_MOESM1_ESM.docx (23 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 24 kb)


  1. Ashbrook K, Wanless S, Harris MP, Hamer KC (2010) Impacts of poor food availability on positive density dependence in a highly colonial seabird. Proc Roy Soc B 277:2355–2360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrett RT (2001) Monitoring the Atlantic puffin Fratercula arctica, common guillemot Uria aalge and black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla breeding populations on Hornøya, northeast Norway, 1980–2000. Fauna norvegica 21:1–10Google Scholar
  3. Barrett RT (2002) Atlantic puffin Fratercula arctica and common guillemot Uria aalge chick diet and growth as indicators of fish stocks in the Barents Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 230:275–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett RT (2003) The food of razorbill Alca torda chicks on Hornøya, North Norway. Ornis Norvegica 26:48–54Google Scholar
  5. Barrett RT (2007) Food web interactions in the southwestern Barents Sea: black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla respond negatively to an increase in herring Clupea harengus. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 349:269–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barrett RT (2010) Recent decline in body condition of departing common guillemots Uria aalge at Hornøya, North Norway. Ornis norvegica 33:49–55Google Scholar
  7. Barrett RT, Asheim M, Bakken V (1997) Ecological relationships between two sympatric congeneric species, Common Murres and Thick-billed Murres, Uria aalge and U. lomvia, breeding in the Barents Sea. Can J Zool 75:618–631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barrett RT, Anker-Nilssen T, Gabrielsen GW, Chapdelaine G (2002) Food consumption by seabirds in Norwegian waters. ICES J Mar Sci 59:43–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barrett RT, Lorentsen S-H, Anker-Nilssen T (2006) The status of breeding seabirds in mainland Norway. Atlantic Seabirds. 8:97–126Google Scholar
  10. Birkhead TR (1977) The effect of habitat and density on breeding success in the common guillemot (Uria aalge). J Anim Ecol 46:751–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boitsov VD, Karsakov AL, Trofimov AG (2012) Atlantic water temperature and climate in the Barents Sea, 2000–2009. ICES J Mar Sci 69:833–840CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brun E (1969) Utbredelse og hekkebestand av lomvi (Uria aalge) i Norge. Sterna 8:209–244Google Scholar
  13. Brun E (1979) Present status and trends in population of seabirds in Norway. In: Bartonek JC, Nettleship DN (eds) Conservation of marine birds of northern North America. US Dep Int, Fish Wildl Serv Wildl Res Rep 11:289–301Google Scholar
  14. Bugge J, Barrett RT, Pedersen T (2011) Optimal foraging in chick-raising Common Guillemots Uria aalge. J Orn 152:253–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Burger AE, Piatt JF (1990) Flexible time budgets in breeding common murres: buffers against variable prey abundance. Stud Avian Biol 14:71–83Google Scholar
  16. Burke CM, Montevecchi WA (2008) Fish and chicks: forage fish and chick success in co-existing auks. Waterbirds 31:372–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Burke CM, Montevecchi WA (2009) The foraging decisions of a central place foraging seabird in response to fluctuations in local prey conditions. J Zool 278:354–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach, 2nd edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Cam E, Aubry L (2011) Early development, recruitment and life history trajectory in long-lived birds. J Ornithol 152(Suppl 1):187–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cam E, Monnat J-Y, Hines JE (2003) Long-term fitness consequences of early conditions in the kittiwake. J Anim Ecol 72:411–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Crespin L, Harris MP, Lebreton J-D, Frederiksen M, Wanless S (2006) Recruitment to a seabird population depends on environmental factors and on population size. J Anim Ecol 72:411–424Google Scholar
  22. Davoren GK (2012) Divergent use of spawning habitat by male capelin (Mallotus villosus) in a warm and cold year. Behav Ecol. doi: 10.1093/beheco/ars147 Google Scholar
  23. Erikstad KE, Vader W (1989) Capelin selection by common and Brünnich’s guillemots during the prelaying season. Ornis Scand 20:151–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Erikstad KE, Reiertsen TK, Anker-Nilssen T, Barrett RT, Lorentsen S-H, Strøm H, Systad GH (2007) Population viability analyses of Norwegian Common Guillemots (Uria aalge). NINA Report 240, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, TrondheimGoogle Scholar
  25. Erikstad KE, Reiertsen TK, Barrett RT, Vikebø F, Sandvik H (in press) Seabirds and fish interactions: the fall and rise of a common guillemot population in Norway. Mar Ecol Prog SerGoogle Scholar
  26. Fauchald P, Ziryanov SV, Borkin IV, Strøm H, Barrett RT (2011) Seabirds. In: Jakobsen T, Ozhigin VK (eds) The Barents Sea. Ecosystem, resources, management. Tapir Academic Press, Trondheim, pp 373–394Google Scholar
  27. Furness RW, Barrett RT (1985) The food requirements and ecological relationships of a seabird community in north Norway. Ornis Scand 16:305–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gaston AJ (2004) Seabirds: a natural history. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  29. Gaston AJ, Jones IL (1998) The Auks: Alcidae. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  30. Gaston AJ, Chapdelaine G, Noble DG (1983) The growth of thick-billed murre chicks at colonies in Hudson Strait: inter- and intra-colony variation. Can J Zool 61:2465–2475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gjøsæther H, Ushakov NG, Prozorkevich DV (2011) Capelin. In: Jakobsen T, Ozhigin VK (eds) The Barents Sea ecosystem, resources, management. Tapir Academic Press Trondheim, pp 201–214Google Scholar
  32. Harris MP, Frederiksen M, Wanless S (2007) Within- and between-year variation in the juvenile survival of common guillemots Uria aalge. Ibis 149:472–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hatch SA (1983) The fledging of common and thick-billed murres on Middleton Island, Alaska. J Field Ornithol 54:266–274Google Scholar
  34. Hedgren S (1979) Seasonal variation in fledging weight of guillemots Uria aalge. Ibis 121:356–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hilton GM, Furness RW, Houston DC (2000) A comparative study of digestion in North Atlantic seabirds. J Avian Biol 31:36–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hipfner JM, Blight LK, Lowe RW, Wilhelm SI, Robertson GJ, Barrett RT, Anker-Nilssen T, Good TP (2012) Unintended consequences: how the recovery of sea eagle Haliaeetus spp. populations in the northern hemisphere is affecting seabirds. Mar Ornithol 40:39–52Google Scholar
  37. Hjermann DØ, Stenseth NC, Ottersen G (2004) Indirect climate forcing of the Barents Sea capelin: a cohort effect. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 273:229–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. ICES (2011) Report of the Arctic Fisheries Working Group (AFWG) ICES CM 2011/ACOM:05 Copenhagen. http://wwwicesdk/reports/ACOM/2011/AFWG/AFWG%20Report%202011pdf. Accessed 2 May 2012
  39. Irons DB, Anker-Nilssen T, Gaston AJ et al (2008) Fluctuations in circumpolar seabird populations linked to climate oscillations. Global Change Biol 14:1455–1463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Johannesen E, Ingvaldsen RB, Bogstad B, Dalpadado P, Eriksen E, Gjøsæther H, Knutsen T, Skern-Mauritzen M, Stiansen JE (2012) Changes in Barents Sea ecosystem state 1970–2009 Climate fluctuations human impact and trophic interactions. ICES J Mar Sci 69:880–889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kadin M, Österblom H, Hentati-Sundberg J, Olsson O (2012) Contrasting effects of food quality and quantity on a marine top predator. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 444:239–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kålås JA, Viken Å, Henriksen S, Skjelseth S (eds) (2010) Norsk Rødliste for arter––Norwegian Red List. Artsdatabanken, TrondheimGoogle Scholar
  43. Kitayksy AS, Hunt GL Jr, Flint EN, Rubega MA, Decker MB (2000) Resource allocation in breeding seabirds: responses to fluctuations in their food supply. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 206:196–283Google Scholar
  44. Kitaysky AS, Kitaiskaia EV, Piatt JF, Wingfield JC (2006) A mechanistic link between chick diet and decline in seabirds? Proc R Soc Lond B 273:445–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Klyashtorin LB, Borisov V, Lyubushin A (2009) Cyclic changes of climate and major commercial stocks of the Barents Sea. Mar Biol Res 5:4–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kristensen DL, Erikstad KE, Reiertsen TK, Moum T, Barrett RT, Jenni-Eiermann J (2012) Are female offspring from a single-egg seabird more costly to raise? Behav Ecol. doi: 10.1093/beheco/ars144
  47. Loeng H (1989) Ecological features of the Barents Sea. In: Rey L, Alexander V (eds) Proc 16th Conf Comité Arctique Int. Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, pp 443–456Google Scholar
  48. Loeng H, Ottersen G, Svenning M-A, Stien A (2010) Effekter på økosystemer og biologisk mangfold. Klimaendringer i norsk Arktis. Norsk Polarinst Rapportserie 133:1–49Google Scholar
  49. Metcalfe NB, Monaghan P (2001) Compensation for a bad start: grow now, pay later? Trends Ecol Evol 16:254–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mitchell PI, Newton SF, Ratcliffe N, Dunn TE (eds) (2004) Seabird populations of Britain and Ireland. Results of the Seabird (2000) census (1998–2002). Poyser, LondonGoogle Scholar
  51. Monticelli D, Ramos JA (2012) Laying date body mass and tick infestation of nestling tropical roseate terns Sterna dougalli predict fledging, success first-year survival and age at first return to the natal colony. Ibis. doi: 101111/j1474-919X201201271x Google Scholar
  52. Morrison KW, Hipfner JM, Gjerdrum C, Green DJ (2009) Wing length and mass at fledging predict local juvenile survival and age at first return in tufted puffins. Condor 111:433–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Noguera JC, Kim S-Y, Velando A (2012) Pre-fledging oxidative damage predicts recruitment in a long-lived bird. Biol Lett 8:61–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Orians GH, Pearson NE (1979) On the theory of central place foraging. In: Horn DJ, Mitchell RD, Stairs GR (eds) Analysis of ecological systems. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, pp 154–177Google Scholar
  55. Österblom H, Bignert A, Fransson T, Olsson O (2001) A decrease in fledging body mass in common guillemot Uria aalge chicks in the Baltic Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 224:305–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Potts GR, Coulson JC, Deans IR (1980) Population dynamics and the breeding success of the shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis, on the Farne Islands Northumberland. J Anim Ecol 49:184–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Reiertsen TK, Erikstad KE, Barrett RT, Sandvik H, Yoccoz NG (2012) Climate fluctuations and differential survival of bridled and non-bridled common guillemots Uria aalge. Ecosphere 3(6):52. doi: 10.1890/ES12-00031R CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. SAS Institute Inc (2008) SAS/STAT user’s guide: Statistics, Release 9.2. SAS Institute, Cary NCGoogle Scholar
  59. Shultz MT, Piatt JF, Harding AMA, Kettle AB, Van Pelt TI (2009) Timing of breeding and reproductive performance n murres and kittiwakes reflect mismatched seasonal prey dynamics. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 393:247–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Stenevik EK, Sundby S (2007) Impacts of climate change on commercial fish stocks in Norwegian waters. Mar Policy 31:19–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Strann K-B, Vader W, Barrett RT (1991) Auk mortality in fishing nets in North Norway. Seabird 13:22–29Google Scholar
  62. Vikebø FB, Ådlandsvik B, Albretsen J, Sundby S, Stenevik EK, Huse G, Svendsen E, Kristiansen T, Eriksen E (2011) Real-time ichthyoplankton drift in Northeast Arctic cod and Norwegian Spring Spawning herring. PLoS ONE 6:e27367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wanless S, Harris MP, Redman P, Speakman JR (2005) Low energy values of fish as a probable cause of a major seabird breeding failure in the North Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 294:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Watanuki Y, Ito M, Deguchi T, Minobe S (2009) Climate-forced seasonal mismatch between the hatching of rhinoceros auklets and the availability of anchovy. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 393:259–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Weimerskirch H (2002) Seabird demography and its relationship with the marine environment. In: Schreiber EA, Burger J (eds) Biology of Marine Birds. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 115–136Google Scholar
  66. Wilhelm SI, Storey AE (2004) Temporal comparisons in feeding ecology and growth of young common guillemots Uria aalge. Atlantic Seabirds 6:47–64Google Scholar
  67. Ydenberg RC (1989) Growth-mortality trade-offs and the evolution of juvenile life histories in the Alcidae. Ecol 70:1494–1506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zador SG, Piatt JF (1999) Time-budgets of common murres at a declining and increasing colony in Alaska. Condor 101:149–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural SciencesTromsø University MuseumTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchFRAM––High North Research Centre for Climate and the EnvironmentTromsøNorway

Personalised recommendations