MEPS 391:117-120 (2009)  -  doi:10.3354/meps08282

Introduction and synthesis: spatial ecology of seabirds at sea

Jacob González-Solís1,*, Scott A. Shaffer2

1Departamento de Biologia Animal (Vertebrats), Universitat de Barcelona, Av Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain 2Department of Biological Sciences, San Jose State University, 1 Washington Square, San Jose, California 95192-0100, USA

ABSTRACT: The spatial ecology of seabirds has greater precedence today than ever before because of impacts on the marine environment from human exploitation, pollution, and climate change. Specific life history traits make seabirds particularly sensitive to these impacts, currently driving many species to unsustainable population declines. To evaluate the risk posed by human activities, we need integrative studies on seabird abundance, distributions, and movements in relation to the biophysical marine environment. Also interpreting the limits of these relationships is fundamental to understanding historical constraints and behavioural adaptations of seabirds that are shaped by evolutionary processes. In this Theme Section, we assembled 4 review papers and 10 case studies that highlight some of the latest techniques to study seabird spatial ecology. This includes the application of tracking tags, ship-based surveys, and remotely sensed environmental data, to characterize seabird movement patterns, fine scale behaviour, and overall distribution combined with measures of the oceanic habitats to enhance our understanding of the functional role that seabirds play. Overall, this knowledge is crucial for understanding and predicting the impacts that fisheries, climate change and pollution are exerting on marine ecosystems and will provide opportunities for developing marine protected areas, conservation action plans and species management.

KEY WORDS: Ecosystems · Impacts · Marine · Seabirds · Spatiotemporal dynamics · Tracking

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Cite this article as: Gonzáles-Solís J, Shaffer SA (2009) Introduction and synthesis: spatial ecology of seabirds at sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 391:117-120

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