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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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A pair of thick-billed murres Uria lomvia attending their single chick on a cliff ledge in Iceland.

Photo: Yann Kolbeinsson

Frederiksen M, Descamps S, Elliott KH, Gaston AJ, Huffeldt NP, Kolbeinsson Y, Linnebjerg JF, Lorentzen E, Merkel FR, Strøm H, Thórarinsson TL

Spatial variation in vital rates and population growth of thick-billed murres in the Atlantic Arctic

Understanding spatiotemporal variation in vital rates and population growth is critical to conservation. However, identifying drivers of variation is challenging for species migrating to remote areas. The thick-billed murre is a colonial seabird showing large-scale spatial variation in population growth in the Atlantic range, with eastern populations declining and western populations being stable. We analyse variation in breeding success and adult survival in 12 Atlantic colonies, construct population models, and compare model predictions to observed colony growth rates. Observed colony growth rates were mostly lower than modelled growth rates. This suggests that pre-breeding survival or breeding propensity must have been lower than assumed in many of these populations, likely linked to poor feeding conditions in fall and winter.


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