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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 25:1-18 (2014)  -  DOI:

Using integrated land- and boat-based surveys to inform conservation of the Critically Endangered Balearic shearwater

Alice R. Jones1,6,*, Russell B. Wynn1, Pierre Yésou2, Laurent Thébault3, Philip Collins1,4, Lavinia Suberg1, Kate M. Lewis5, Tom M. Brereton5

1National Oceanography Centre - Southampton, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
2Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS), 39 Boulevard Albert Einstein, 44300 Nantes, France
3Groupe d’Etudes Ornithologique des Côtes d’Armor (GEOCA), Couign ar fao, Kerlaudy, 29420 Plouenan, France
4School of Life Sciences, University of Roehampton, Holybourne Avenue, London SW15 4JD, UK
5MARINElife, 12 St Andrews Road, Bridport, Dorset DT6 3BG, UK
6Present address: The Environment Institute & School of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We investigated spatio-temporal distribution patterns of the Critically Endangered Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus in the northern part of its migratory range, using a combination of effort-corrected land- and boat-based survey data (2007-2010). The species was recorded regularly along the western English Channel (Western Channel) coasts of northwest France and the southwest UK, with peak counts occurring during the summer and autumn months. Foraging aggregations comprising hundreds to thousands of birds (~1 to 20% of the global population) were recorded in the large shallow embayments of northern Brittany in all survey years. Elsewhere, most birds were recorded on passage, with maximum birds-per-hour (BPH) of 169 off northwest France and 36 off the southwest UK. Few birds were recorded offshore, beyond sight of land. A distance-from-shore analysis revealed that the species passed closer to shore than other pelagic seabirds such as sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus. A constant-effort seasonal survey from the southwest tip of the UK mainland recorded the species on 93% of survey days, with BPH rates peaking in the morning between 08:00 and 11:00 h. These results have important monitoring and conservation implications for this Critically Endangered species. In particular, the records of large aggregations in spatially restricted areas of the Western Channel during the inter-breeding period suggests the species could be vulnerable to impacts such as oil spills, or disturbance from offshore construction projects. We also provide evidence that some birds remain in the survey area during the breeding season, suggesting it may be an important site for non-breeding birds.

KEY WORDS: Balearic shearwater · Puffinus mauretanicus · Spatio-temporal distribution · Visual monitoring · Critically Endangered · Western Channel · Conservation

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Cite this article as: Jones AR, Wynn RB, Yésou P, Thébault L and others (2014) Using integrated land- and boat-based surveys to inform conservation of the Critically Endangered Balearic shearwater. Endang Species Res 25:1-18.

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