MEPS 349:269-276 (2007)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07116

Food web interactions in the southwestern Barents Sea: black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla respond negatively to an increase in herring Clupea harengus

Robert T. Barrett*

Zoology Department, Tromsø University Museum, 9037 Tromsø, Norway

ABSTRACT: Since 1980 the stock of Norwegian spring-spawning herring Clupea harengus has increased 10-fold to >5 × 106 t. This increase has probably played a vital role in repeated collapses in the capelin Mallotus villosus stock in the Barents Sea since the mid-1980s. After several decades of increase during a period of high capelin abundance in the Barents Sea, the population of black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla breeding in northern Norway started to decline in the early 1980s, reaching rates of –8% yr–1 since 1995. Earlier studies in the southwestern Barents Sea suggested that the black-legged kittiwakes in the region were dependent on capelin as prey for successful breeding. This study further documents a positive relationship between diet composition and fish abundance, and the negative effect that a switch to feeding on herring in the absence of capelin has had on chick provisioning and possibly fledging success.


KEY WORDS: Seabirds · Black-legged kittiwake · Diet · Breeding success · Food web interactions


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Cite this article as: Barrett RT (2007) Food web interactions in the southwestern Barents Sea: black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla respond negatively to an increase in herring Clupea harengus. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 349:269-276. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07116

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