Marine Biology

, 164:55 | Cite as

The importance of Portuguese Continental Shelf Waters to Balearic Shearwaters revealed by aerial census

  • Hélder AraújoEmail author
  • Jorge Bastos-Santos
  • Pedro Correia Rodrigues
  • Marisa Ferreira
  • Andreia Pereira
  • Ana Catarina Henriques
  • Sílvia S. Monteiro
  • Catarina Eira
  • José Vingada
Original paper


The Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus is one of the most threatened seabirds in the world. To evaluate the abundance and distribution of Balearic Shearwaters in Portuguese Continental Shelf Waters, during the post-breeding period when migrating birds are outside the Mediterranean Sea, we conducted 5 aerial surveys between 2010 and 2014 (21 survey days covering 62,716 km2). Following a line transect method, observers recorded a total of 181 Balearic Shearwaters sightings. Using Distance sampling software, we estimated an overall species abundance (2010–2014) of 10,182, ranging between 2338 in 2010 and 23,221 individuals in 2012. During the 2012 post-breeding period, the Portuguese Continental Shelf Waters were used by up to 96.8% of the latest migratory population assessment. Considering Balearic Shearwater estimates per sampling block, there was a preference for the North and Center sectors of the Portuguese coast (respectively, 7058 and 1366 individuals) where several SPAs were already designated. We computed the annual and overall habitat predictive models for Balearic Shearwaters using a maximum entropy algorithm on MaxEnt software. In all models, the Balearic shearwater distribution was best predicted by mean chlorophyll concentration. Balearic Shearwaters are mostly present in shallow shelf and coastal waters particularly in the widest portions of the continental shelf. These areas are strongly influenced by upwelling, which concurs with the chlorophyll concentration being the most important predicting variable. Portuguese Continental Shelf Waters are one of the most important post-breeding grounds to the Balearic Shearwater.


Chlorophyll Concentration Occurrence Probability Detection Function Aerial Survey Perception Bias 
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.



This work was partly funded by the Portuguese Wildlife Society and projects SafeSea EEA-Grants, FAME (Proj. 2009-1/089) and European Commission’s Life Programme (MarPro NAT/PT/00038). This study was also partly supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) with Grants SFRH/ BD/30240/2006 to M. Ferreira and SFRH/BD/32841/2006 to P. C. Rodrigues. C. Eira is supported by FCT through CESAM UID/AMB/50017/2013 co-funded by FCT/MEC and FEDER, within PT2020 and Compete 2020 and S. Monteiro is financed by a Grant (BPD/0043/AMB/50017) from UID/AMB/50017/2013. This work was also partially supported by the strategic programme UID/BIA/04050/2013 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007569) funded by FCT and by ERDF (COMPETE2020). The authors thank observers and airplane pilots who contributed to this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

227_2017_3089_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (3.5 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 3536 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hélder Araújo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Jorge Bastos-Santos
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Pedro Correia Rodrigues
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Marisa Ferreira
    • 2
    • 5
  • Andreia Pereira
    • 2
  • Ana Catarina Henriques
    • 2
    • 7
  • Sílvia S. Monteiro
    • 1
    • 2
  • Catarina Eira
    • 1
    • 2
  • José Vingada
    • 2
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia, Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar (CESAM)Universidade de AveiroAveiroPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Sociedade Portuguesa de Vida SelvagemUniversidade do MinhoBragaPortugal
  3. 3.Campus do Mar, International Campus of ExcellencePontevedraSpain
  4. 4.Campus do Mar, International Campus of ExcellenceBragaPortugal
  5. 5.Departament Biology and CBMAUniversidade do MinhoBragaPortugal
  6. 6.CESAM Universidade de AveiroAveiroPortugal
  7. 7.Insituto Superior de AgronomiaUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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