Polar Biology

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 577–592 | Cite as

South Polar Skua breeding populations in the Ross Sea assessed from demonstrated relationship with Adélie Penguin numbers

  • Deborah J. Wilson
  • Philip O’B. Lyver
  • Terry C. Greene
  • Amy L. Whitehead
  • Katie M. Dugger
  • Brian J. Karl
  • James R. F. Barringer
  • Roger McGarry
  • Annie M. Pollard
  • David G. Ainley
Original Paper

Abstract

In the Ross Sea region, most South Polar Skuas (Stercorarius maccormicki) nest near Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) colonies, preying and scavenging on fish, penguins, and other carrion. To derive a relationship to predict skua numbers from better-quantified penguin numbers, we used distance sampling to estimate breeding skua numbers within 1000 m of 5 penguin nesting locations (Cape Crozier, Cape Royds, and 3 Cape Bird locations) on Ross Island in 3 consecutive years. Estimated numbers of skua breeding pairs were highest at Cape Crozier (270,000 penguin pairs; 1099 and 1347 skua pairs in 2 respective years) and lowest at Cape Royds (3000 penguin pairs; 45 skua pairs). The log–log linear relationship (R2 = 0.98) between pairs of skuas and penguins was highly significant, and most historical estimates of skua and penguin numbers in the Ross Sea were within 95 % prediction intervals of the regression. Applying our regression model to current Adélie Penguin colony sizes at 23 western Ross Sea locations predicted that 4635 pairs of skuas now breed within 1000 m of penguin colonies in the Ross Island metapopulation (including Beaufort Island) and northern Victoria Land. We estimate, using published skua estimates for elsewhere in Antarctica, that the Ross Sea South Polar Skua population comprises ~50 % of the world total, although this may be an overestimate because of incomplete data elsewhere. To improve predictions and enable measurement of future skua population change, we recommend additional South Polar Skua surveys using consistent distance-sampling methods at penguin colonies of a range of sizes.

Keywords

Distance sampling Environmental change Pygoscelis adeliae Seabirds South Polar Skua Stercorarius maccormicki 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank G. Barclay, J. Whitehead, Q. Barr-Glintborg and R. Hunter for assistance in the field, K. Drew for data compilation, Antarctica New Zealand and the U.S. Antarctic Program for logistical support, and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries’ Antarctic Fisheries Working Group for discussions. We are grateful to W. Fraser and E. Woehler for insights into skuas and penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula and East Antarctic regions, respectively; W. Fraser of the Palmer LTER also provided unpublished data on skua numbers in the middle portion of the Antarctic Peninsula. Similarly, we thank C. Harris for access to the Important Bird Areas data base to check on our gleaning of the literature for skua numbers in the Antarctic Peninsula. We thank reviewers and editors for their valuable comments on previous versions of this paper. This research was conducted in compliance with New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Preliminary Environmental Evaluation Notification/Permits (K121-1112; K121-1213 and K122-1415-A). It was supported by contestable Grants (C01X1226 and C01X1001) and core funding for Crown Research Institutes from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Science and Innovation Group, by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI17238-S01-LC), by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (Science and Capability), and by Grant ANT-0944411 from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US government.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

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

Supplementary material

300_2016_1980_MOESM1_ESM.docx (90 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 90 kb)

References

  1. Ainley DG (2002) The Adélie Penguin: bellwether of climate change. Columbia University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ainley DG, O’Connor EF, Boekelheide RJ (1984) The marine ecology of birds in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Ornithological Monographs 32. American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  3. Ainley DG, Morrell SH, Wood RC (1986) South Polar Skua breeding colonies in the Ross Sea region, Antarctica. Notornis 33:155–163Google Scholar
  4. Ainley DG, Ribic CA, Wood RC (1990) A demographic study of the South Polar Skua Catharacta maccormicki at Cape Crozier. J Anim Ecol 59:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ainley DG, Nur N, Woehler EJ (1995) Factors affecting the distribution and size of pygoscelid penguin colonies in the Antarctic. Auk 112:171–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ainley DG, LaRue MA, Stirling I, Stammerjohn S, Siniff DB (2015) An apparent population decrease, or change in distribution, of Weddell seals along the Victoria Land coast. Mar Mam Sci 31:1338–1361. doi:10.1111/mms.12220 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Arnold TW (2010) Uninformative parameters and model selection using Akaike’s information criterion. J Wildl Manag 74:1175–1178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. ATCM (2010) Final report of the thirty-third Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Punta del Este, Uruguay, 3–14 May 2010. Buenos Aires: Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty, 2010. Measure 5 Annex. Management Plan for Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) No. 106 Cape Hallett, Northern Victoria Land, Ross Sea (170°14′E, 72°19′S). http://www.ats.aq/documents/recatt/Att443_e.pdf. Accessed 11 Aug 2015
  9. Ballard G, Jongsomjit D, Veloz SD, Ainley DG (2012) Coexistence of mesopredators in an intact polar ocean ecosystem: the basis for defining a Ross Sea marine protected area. Biol Conserv 156:72–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ballerini T, Tavecchia G, Olmastroni S, Pezzo F, Focardi S (2009) Nonlinear effects of winter sea ice on the survival probabilities of Adélie penguins. Oecologia 161:253–265CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Barber-Meyer SM, Kooyman GL, Ponganis PJ (2008) Trends in western Ross Sea emperor penguin chick abundances and their relationships to climate. Antarct Sci 20:3–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Barbraud C, Fortin M, Charbonnier Y, Delord K, Gadennne H, Thiebot J-B, Gelinaud G (2014) A comparison of direct and distance sampling methods to estimate abundance of nesting gulls. Ardeola 61:367–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bibby CJ, Burgess ND, Hill DA, Mustoe SH (2000) Bird census techniques. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Buckland ST, Anderson DR, Burnham KP, Laake JL, Borchers DL, Thomas L (2001) Introduction to distance sampling: estimating abundance of biological populations. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  15. Buckland ST, Anderson DR, Burnham KP, Laake JL, Borchers DL, Thomas L (2004) Advanced distance sampling: estimating abundance of biological populations. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  16. Buckland ST, Plumptre AJ, Thomas L, Rexstad EA (2010) Design and analysis of line transect surveys for primates. Int J Primatol 31:833–847CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Burger AE (1981) Food and foraging behaviour of lesser sheathbills at Marion Island. Ardea 69:167–180Google Scholar
  18. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information theoretic approach. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. CCAMLR (2014) CCAMLR ecosystem monitoring program—standard methods. CCAMLR, Hobart, Australia. https://www.ccamlr.org/en/document/publications/ccamlr-ecosystem-monitoring-program-standard-methods. Accessed 11 Apr 2016
  20. Croxall JP, Trathan PN, Murphy EJ (2002) Environmental change and Antarctic seabird populations. Science 297:1510–1514CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Dugger KM, Ballard G, Ainley DG, Lyver POB, Schine C (2014) Adélie penguins coping with environmental change: results from a natural experiment at the edge of their breeding range. Front Ecol Evol 2:68. doi:10.3389/fevo.2014.00068 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fretwell PT, LaRue MA, Morin P, Kooyman GL, Wienecke B, Ratcliffe N, Fox AJ, Fleming AH, Porter C, Trathan PN (2012) An emperor penguin population estimate: the first global, synoptic survey of a species from space. PLoS One 7:e33751CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Gelman A, Hill J (2007) Data analysis using regression and multilevel/hierarchical models. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Grilli MG (2014) Decline in numbers of Antarctic Skuas breeding at Potter Peninsula, King George Island, Antarctica. Mar Ornithol 42:161–162Google Scholar
  25. Grilli MG, Libertelli M, Montalti D (2011) Diet of South Polar Skua chicks in two areas of sympatry with Brown Skua. Waterbirds 34:495–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harper PC (1984) The status and conservation of birds in the Ross Sea sector of Antarctica. In: Croxall JP, Evans PGH, Schreiber RW (eds) Status and conservation of the world’s seabirds. International Council for Bird Preservation Technical Publication, vol 2, pp 593–608Google Scholar
  27. Harris CM, Lorenz K, Fishpool LDC, Lascelles B, Cooper J, Coria NR, Croxall JP, Emmerson LM, Fraser WR, Fijn RC, Jouventin P, LaRue MA, Le Maho Y, Lynch HJ, Naveen R, Patterson-Fraser DL, Peter H-U, Poncet S, Phillips RA, Southwell CJ, van Franeker JA, Weimerskirch H, Wienecke B, Woehler EJ (2015) Important bird areas in Antarctica 2015. BirdLife International and Environmental Research & Assessment Ltd., CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  28. Hedley SL, Buckland ST (2004) Spatial models for line transect sampling. J Agric Biol Environ Stat 9:181–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Johnston BR (1971) Skua numbers and conservation problems at Cape Hallett, Antarctica. Nature 231:468CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. LaRue MA, Ainley DG, Swanson M, Dugger KM, Lyver PO, Barton K, Ballard G (2013) Climate change winners: receding ice fields facilitate colony expansion and altered dynamics in an Adélie penguin metapopulation. PLoS One 8:e60568CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  31. LINZ Data Service (2015) Land Information New Zealand. https://data.linz.govt.nz/layer/1155-nz-ross-dependency-contours-ant-150k/. Accessed 20 Oct 2015
  32. Lynch HJ, LaRue ML (2014) First global census of the Adélie Penguin. Auk 131:457–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lynch HJ, Naveen R, Trathan PN, Fagan WF (2012) Spatially integrated assessment reveals widespread changes in penguin populations on the Antarctic Peninsula. Ecology 93:1367–1377CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Lyver POB, Barron M, Barton KJ, Ainley DG, Pollard A, Gordon S, McNeill S, Ballard G, Wilson PR (2014) Trends in the breeding population of Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea, 1981–2012: a coincidence of climate and resource extraction effects. PLoS One 9:e91188CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. Marques TA, Thomas L, Fancy SG, Buckland ST (2007) Improving estimates of bird density using multiple-covariate distance sampling. Auk 124:1229–1243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McNeill SJ, Barton K, Lyver P, Pairman D (2011) Semi-automated penguin counting from digital aerial photographs. In: Proceedings of the IEEE international geoscience and remote sensing symposium 2011 (IGARSS-2011), pp 4312–4315Google Scholar
  37. Micol T, Jouventin P (2001) Long-term population trends in seven Antarctic seabirds at Pointe Géologie (Terre Adélie): human impact compared with environmental change. Polar Biol 24:175–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Müller-Schwarze D, Müller-Schwarze C (1973) Differential predation by South Polar Skuas in an Adélie penguin rookery. Condor 75:127–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mund MJ, Miller GD (1995) Diet of the South Polar Skua Catharacta maccormicki at Cape Bird, Ross Island, Antarctica. Polar Biol 15:453–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pascoe JG (1984) A census of the South Polar Skua at Cape Hallett, Antarctica. Notornis 31:312–319Google Scholar
  41. Patterson DL, Woehler EJ, Croxall JP, Cooper J, Poncet S, Peter H-U, Hunter S, Fraser WR (2008) Breeding distribution and population status of the Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli and the Southern Giant Petrel M. giganteus. Mar Ornithol 36:115–124Google Scholar
  42. Pezzo F, Olmastroni S, Corsolini S, Focardi S (2001) Factors affecting the breeding success of the South Polar Skua Catharacta maccormicki at Edmonson Point, Victoria Land, Antarctica. Polar Biol 24:389–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pietz PJ (1987) Feeding and nesting ecology of sympatric South Polar and Brown skuas. Auk 104:617–627Google Scholar
  44. Pinkerton MH, Bradford-Grieve JM, Sanchet SM (2010a) A balanced model of the food web of the Ross Sea, Antarctica. CCAMLR Sci 17:1–31Google Scholar
  45. Pinkerton MH, Bradford-Grieve J, Wilson P, Thompson D (2010b) Birds: trophic modelling of the Ross Sea. http://www.niwa.co.nz/sites/default/files/02_birds_ccamlr_final.pdf. Accessed 11 Aug 2015
  46. R Core Team (2015) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. http://www.R-project.org/. Accessed 11 Aug 2015
  47. Reid B (1962) An assessment of the size of the Cape Adare Adélie penguin rookery and skuary—with notes on petrels. Notornis 10:98–111Google Scholar
  48. Reinhardt K, Hahn S, Peter H-U, Wemhoff H (2000) A review of the diets of Southern Hemisphere skuas. Mar Ornithol 28:7–19Google Scholar
  49. Southwell C, Emmerson L, McKinlay J, Newbery K, Takahashi A, Kato A, Barbraud C, DeLord K, Weimerskirch H (2015) Spatially extensive standardized surveys reveal widespread, multi-decadal increase in East Antarctic Adélie penguin populations. PLoS One 10:e0139877. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139877 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  50. Spellerberg IF (1971) Arrival and departure of birds at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Emu 71:167–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Thomas L, Buckland ST, Rexstad EA, Laake JL, Strindberg S, Hedley SL, Bishop JRB, Marques TA, Burnham KP (2010) Distance software: design and analysis of distance sampling surveys for estimating population size. J Appl Ecol 47:5–14CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  52. Trivelpiece W, Volkman NJ (1982) Feeding strategies of sympatric South Polar Catharacta maccormicki and Brown skuas C. lönnbergi. Ibis 124:50–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wang Z, Norman FI (1993) Timing of breeding, breeding success and chick growth in South Polar Skuas (Catharacta maccormicki) in the eastern Larsemann Hills, Princess Elizabeth Land, East Antarctica. Notornis 40:189–203Google Scholar
  54. Wilson K-J, Turney C, Fogwill C, Hunter J (2015) Low numbers and apparent long term stability of South Polar Skuas Stercorarius maccormicki at Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica. Mar Ornithol 43:103–106Google Scholar
  55. Woehler EJ, Cooper J, Croxall JP, Fraser WR, Kooyman GL, Miller GD, Nel DC, Patterson DL, Peter HU, Ribic CA, Salwicka K, Trivenliece WZ, Weimerskirch H (2001) A statistical assessment of the status and trends of Antarctic and Subantarctic seabirds. Workshop on southern ocean seabird populations. SCAR Breeding Bird Subgroup, Cambridge. http://www.scar.org/scar_media/documents/publications/Woehler_etal_Status_of_Seabirds_2001.pdf. Accessed 11 Apr 2016
  56. Wood RC (1971) Population dynamics of breeding South Polar Skuas of unknown age. Auk 88:805–814CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Young EC (1963) Feeding habits of the South Polar Skua Catharacta maccormicki. Ibis 105:301–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Young EC (1981) The ornithology of the Ross Sea. J R Soc New Zeal 11:287–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Young E (1994) Skua and penguin: predator and prey. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Young EC, Millar CD (1999) Skua (Catharacta sp.) foraging behaviour at the Cape Crozier Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) colony, Ross Island, Antarctica, and implications for breeding. Notornis 46:287–297Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah J. Wilson
    • 1
  • Philip O’B. Lyver
    • 2
  • Terry C. Greene
    • 3
  • Amy L. Whitehead
    • 4
  • Katie M. Dugger
    • 5
  • Brian J. Karl
    • 2
  • James R. F. Barringer
    • 2
  • Roger McGarry
    • 6
  • Annie M. Pollard
    • 7
  • David G. Ainley
    • 8
  1. 1.Landcare ResearchDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Landcare ResearchLincolnNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of ConservationChristchurchNew Zealand
  4. 4.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric ResearchChristchurchNew Zealand
  5. 5.U.S. Geological Survey, Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and WildlifeOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  6. 6.Owairaka, AucklandNew Zealand
  7. 7.Coos BayUSA
  8. 8.H. T. Harvey and Associates Ecological ConsultantsLos GatosUSA

Personalised recommendations