MEPS 509:289-302 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10825

Prey density in non-breeding areas affects adult survival of black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla

Tone K. Reiertsen1,2,*, Kjell E. Erikstad2,3, Tycho Anker-Nilssen4, Robert T. Barrett1, Thierry Boulinier5, Morten Frederiksen6, Jacob González-Solís7, David Gremillet5, David Johns8, Børge Moe4, Aurore Ponchon5, Mette Skern-Mauritzen9, Hanno Sandvik3, Nigel G. Yoccoz10

1Tromsø University Museum, Department of Natural Sciences, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
2Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, FRAM—High North Research Centre for Climate and the Environment, Hjalmar Johansens gt 14, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
3Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
4Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, PO Box 5685 Sluppen, 7485 Trondheim, Norway
5Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CNRS UMR 5175, 1919 Route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier cedex 5, France
6Department of Biosciences, Aarhus University, Fredriksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
7Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat (IRBio) and Departament de Biologia Animal (Vertebrats), Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 643, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
8Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS), Citadel Hill, PL1 2PB Plymouth, UK
9Institute of Marine Research, PO Box 1870, 5817 Bergen, Norway
10Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: In migratory birds, environmental conditions in both breeding and non-breeding areas may affect adult survival rates and hence be significant drivers of demographic processes. In seabirds, poor knowledge of their true distribution outside the breeding season, however, has severely limited such studies. This study explored how annual adult survival rates of black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla on Hornøya in the southern Barents Sea were related to temporal variation in prey densities and climatic parameters in their breeding and non-breeding areas. We used information on the kittiwakes’ spatiotemporal distribution in the non-breeding season gained from year-round light-based tracking devices (geolocators) and satellite transmitters, and kittiwake annual adult survival rates gained from a multistate capture-mark-recapture analysis of a 22 yr time series of colour-ringed kittiwakes. In the post-breeding period, kittiwakes concentrated in an area east of Svalbard, in the winter they stayed in the Grand Banks/Labrador Sea area, and in the pre-breeding period they returned to the Barents Sea. We identified 2 possible prey categories of importance for the survival of kittiwakes in these areas (sea butterflies Thecosomata in the Grand Banks/Labrador Sea area in winter and capelin Mallotus villosus in the Barents Sea in the pre-breeding season) that together explained 52% of the variation in adult survival rates. Our results may have important implications for the conservation of kittiwakes, which are declining globally, because other populations use the same areas. Since they are under the influence of major anthropogenic activities including fisheries, international shipping and the offshore oil and gas industry, both areas should be targeted for future management plans.


KEY WORDS: Black-legged kittiwake · Pteropods · Capelin · Capture-mark-recapture analyses · Non-breeding distribution


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Cite this article as: Reiertsen TK, Erikstad KE, Anker-Nilssen T, Barrett RT and others (2014) Prey density in non-breeding areas affects adult survival of black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 509:289-302. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10825

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