Fish and seabird spatial distribution and abundance at the largest seabird colony in the Baltic Sea

Author(s): Hentati-Sundberg, J., Evans, T., Osterblom, H., Hjelm, J., Larson, N., Bakken, V., Svenson, A. Olsson, O.
In: Marine Ornithology
Year: 2018
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Marine
Link to centre authors: Olsson, Olof, Österblom, Henrik
Full reference: Hentati-Sundberg, J., Evans, T., Osterblom, H., Hjelm, J., Larson, N., Bakken, V., Svenson, A. and Olsson, O., 2018. Fish and seabird spatial distribution and abundance at the largest seabird colony in the Baltic Sea. Marine Ornithology, 46, pp.61-68.

Summary

They studied the at-sea distribution of two auks (Common Murre Uria aalge, Razorbill Alca torda), two gulls (Lesser Black-backed Gull
Larus fuscus, Herring Gull Larus argentatus), and Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo during the peak breeding season of 2014 around
Stora Karlsö, the main Baltic Sea seabird colony. Simultaneously, they quantified forage fish abundance and distribution using hydro-acoustics and pelagic trawling. The auks and gulls had a roughly similar distribution, foraging mainly about 40 km west-northwest from the colony.

Great Cormorants were found only in inshore areas, close to the colony. Sprat Sprattus sprattus and herring Clupea harengus biomass was, respectively, 1.38 and 2.68 mt/km2 averaged over the whole study area. These estimates represent a total biomass for small pelagic fish of 17900 t in the 4 408 km2 study area. The estimated prey consumption over the breeding season was 2 310 t for Common Murre and Razorbill combined. Thus, auks may have a non-negligible impact on their prey sources in the region. Common Murres foraged closer to the colony (median 36.3 km) than Razorbills (median 41.1 km), but we found no significant correlation between auk at-sea numbers and fish densities.

They discuss how new technology can contribute to detailed monitoring of the interactions between seabirds and fish at different spatial and temporal scales, with the ultimate aim of providing a scientific basis for ecosystem-based management.

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