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:SEAav3 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13580

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Strong migratory connectivity across meta-populations of sympatric North Atlantic seabirds

Benjamin Merkel1,2,15,*, Sébastien Descamps1, Nigel G. Yoccoz2, David Grémillet3,4, Per Fauchald5, Jóhannis Danielsen6, Francis Daunt7, Kjell Einar Erikstad5,8, Aleksey V. Ezhov9, Mike P. Harris7, Maria Gavrilo10,11, Svein-Håkon Lorentsen12, Tone K. Reiertsen5, Geir H. Systad13, Thorkell Lindberg Thórarinsson14, Sarah Wanless7, Hallvard Strøm1

1Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, PO Box 6606 Langnes, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
2Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø—The Arctic University of Norway, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
3Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, UMR 5175, CNRS—Université de Montpellier—Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier—EPHE, Montpellier, France
4FitzPatrick Institute, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence at the University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
5Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Fram Centre, PO Box 6606 Langnes, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
6University of the Faroe Islands, Vestarabryggja 15, 100 Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
7Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QB, UK
8Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
9Murmansk Marine Biological Institute, 17 Vladimirskaya Street, 183010 Murmansk, Russia
10Association Maritime Heritage, 199106, Icebreaker "Krassin", The Lieutenant Schmidt emb., 23 Line, Saint Petersburg, Russia
11National Park Russian Arctic, 168000, Sovetskikh Kosmonavtov Ave. 57, Archangelsk, Russia
12Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, PO Box 5685 Sluppen, 7485 Trondheim, Norway
13Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Thormøhlensgate 55, 5006 Bergen, Norway
14Northeast Iceland Nature Research Centre, Hafnarstétt 3, 640 Húsavík, Iceland
15Present address: Akvaplan-niva, Fram Centre, PO Box 6606 Langnes, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Identifying drivers of population trends in migratory species is difficult, as they can face many stressors while moving through different areas and environments during the annual cycle. To understand the potential of migrants to adjust to perturbations, it is critical to study the connection of different areas used by different populations during the annual cycle (i.e. migratory connectivity). Using a large-scale tracking data set of 662 individual seabirds from 2 sympatric auk meta-populations (common guillemots Uria aalge and Brünnich’s guillemots U. lomvia) breeding in 12 colonies throughout the Northeast Atlantic, we estimated migratory connectivity in seasonal space use as well as occupied environmental niches. We found strong migratory connectivity, within and between species. This was apparent through a combination of seasonal space use and occupied environmental niches. Brünnich’s guillemot populations grouped into 2 and common guillemot populations into 5 previously undescribed spatiotemporal clusters. Common guillemot populations clustered in accordance with the variable population trends exhibited by the species, while Brünnich’s guillemot populations are declining everywhere where known within the study area. Individuals from different breeding populations in both species were clustered in their space and environmental use, utilising only a fraction of the potential species-wide range. Further, space use varied among seasons, emphasising the variable constraints faced by both species during the different stages of their annual cycle. Our study highlights that considering spatiotemporal dynamics, not only in space but also in occupied environmental niches, improves our understanding of migratory connectivity and thus population vulnerability in the context of global change.


KEY WORDS: Environmental niche · Inter-population mixing · Large-scale spatiotemporal dynamics · Light-level geolocation · Murres · Population spread · Seasonality



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Cite this article as: Merkel B, Descamps S, Yoccoz NG, Grémillet D and others (2021) Strong migratory connectivity across meta-populations of sympatric North Atlantic seabirds. Mar Ecol Prog Ser :SEAav3. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13580

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