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Non-breeding areas of three sympatric auk species breeding in three Icelandic colonies

Abstract

Like many seabirds, auks spend most of the year in offshore areas. Information on which oceanic areas they rely on throughout the winter is therefore important in understanding their population dynamics and establishing appropriate conservation measures. The breeding populations of Thick-billed Murres (Uria lomvia), Common Murres (Uria aalge) and Razorbills (Alca torda) in Iceland have been reported declining for the last 30 years. Thick-billed Murres have shown the most alarming rate of decrease, while Razorbills have declined the least. To help understand these changes, we collected information about the non-breeding distribution of these three species by using light-based geolocation. Geolocators were deployed on breeding adults in three different colonies in Iceland in 2013 and 2014. Data showed that the three species’ wintering areas differed substantially. Thick-billed Murres wintered off the west coast of Greenland and East Greenland/Northern Iceland, Common Murres favoured areas around Iceland/East Greenland and to the southwest along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and Razorbills were mostly distributed around Iceland. Although some intraspecific variation was evident, we conclude that the population development of Thick-billed Murres in Iceland is likely to be largely influenced by environmental conditions in west Greenland, while Common Murres and Razorbills are more dependent on the oceanic area around Iceland. The results may therefore prove to be an important platform for understanding the population dynamics of these three species in Iceland and informing conservation actions.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the Icelandic Game Research Fund. Additional data on Common Murres and Thick-billed Murres from Langanes was collected as part of the Norwegian project SEATRACK and kindly contributed to this study. Jannie Fries Linnebjerg was partly funded by the Carlsberg Foundation and a Linnaeus grant to the Centre for Animal Movement Research (CAnMove) at Lund University from the Swedish Research Council and Lund University. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History provided data on ringing recoveries.

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Correspondence to Jannie Fries Linnebjerg.

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Linnebjerg, J.F., Frederiksen, M., Kolbeinsson, Y. et al. Non-breeding areas of three sympatric auk species breeding in three Icelandic colonies. Polar Biol 41, 1951–1961 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-018-2334-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-018-2334-1

Keywords

  • Alca torda
  • Light-based geolocation
  • Migration
  • Moult
  • Uria aalge
  • Uria lomvia