Journal Article

Seabird numbers and prey consumption in the North Atlantic

Robert T. Barrett, Gilles Chapdelaine, Tycho Anker-Nilssen, Anders Mosbech, William A. Montevecchi, James B. Reid and Richard R. Veit

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 63, issue 6, pages 1145-1158
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icesjms.2006.04.004
Seabird numbers and prey consumption in the North Atlantic

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We compared seasonal composition, abundance, and biomass of seabirds between the Northeast (ICES region) and Northwest (NAFO region) Atlantic fisheries regions to identify differences in community assemblage and prey consumption. Seabirds were more abundant in the Northwest Atlantic, but biomass was greater in the Northeast. This disparity resulted from enormous numbers of little auks Alle alle breeding in West Greenland and of Leach's storm-petrels Oceanodroma leucorhoa breeding in Newfoundland, plus large numbers of non-breeding shearwaters Puffinus spp. entering southern NAFO areas in summer. The Northeast Atlantic communities were dominated numerically by northern fulmars Fulmarus glacialis, large auks Uria spp., and the Atlantic puffin Fratercula arctica. Seabirds occupying the North Atlantic consume approximately 11 × 106 t of food annually. Overall consumption rates peak during summer as a result of increased breeding activity and seasonal movements of birds into the North Atlantic. Because of the greater biomass of birds in the northeast, consumption (mainly by piscivores) in ICES areas was approximately 20% higher than that in NAFO areas, where planktivores dominate. NAFO areas had, however, a much greater consumption rate per unit area than ICES areas. Comparative studies such as these could prove informative in assessing large predator responses to the influence of fishing and ocean-scale climate change.

Keywords: community; consumption; North Atlantic; predators; seabirds

Journal Article.  7606 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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