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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 684:181-197 (2022)  -  DOI:

Interspecific variation in non-breeding aggregation: a multi-colony tracking study of two sympatric seabirds

Lila Buckingham1,2,*, Maria I. Bogdanova1, Jonathan A. Green2, Ruth E. Dunn3,14, Sarah Wanless1, Sophie Bennett1,2, Richard M. Bevan4, Andrew Call5, Michael Canham6, Colin J. Corse7, Michael P. Harris1, Christopher J. Heward8, David C. Jardine9, Jim Lennon10, David Parnaby11, Chris P. F. Redfern4, Liz Scott10, Robert L. Swann5, Robin M. Ward8, Ewan D. Weston12, Robert W. Furness13, Francis Daunt1

1UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik EH26 0QB, UK
2School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK
3Institute of Environment, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33181, USA
4School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle NE1 7RU, UK
5Highland Ringing Group, Inverness IV19 1JR, UK
6Moray Firth Ecology, Cawdor, Nairn IV12 5RF, UK
7Orkney Ringing Group, Garrisdale, Lynn Park, Kirkwall KW15 1SL, UK
8Treshnish Isles Auk Ringing Group, 15 Church Close, Great Stukeley PE28 4AP, UK
9The Old Schoolhouse, 26 Kilmartin, Lochgilphead PA31 8RN, UK
10Shiants Auk Ringing Group, Clearview, Sibthorpe, Newark NG23 5PN, UK
11Fair Isle Bird Observatory, Fair Isle ZE2 9JU, UK
12Comers Wood Croft, Midmar AB51 7QB, UK
13MacArthur Green, 93 South Woodside Road, Glasgow G20 6NT, UK
14Present address: Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Migration is a widespread strategy for escaping unfavourable conditions during winter, but the extent to which populations that segregate during the breeding season aggregate during the non-breeding season is poorly understood. Low non-breeding season aggregation may be associated with higher likelihood of overlap with threats, but with fewer populations affected, whereas high aggregation may result in a lower probability of exposure to threats, but higher overall severity. We investigated non-breeding distributions and extent of population aggregation in 2 sympatrically breeding auks. We deployed geolocation-immersion loggers on common guillemots Uria aalge and razorbills Alca torda at 11 colonies around the northern UK and tracked their movements across 2 non-breeding seasons (2017-18 and 2018-19). Using 290 guillemot and 135 razorbill tracks, we mapped population distributions of each species and compared population aggregation during key periods of the non-breeding season (post-breeding moult and mid-winter), observing clear interspecific differences. Razorbills were largely distributed in the North Sea, whereas guillemot distributions were spread throughout Scottish coastal waters and the North, Norwegian and Barents Seas. We found high levels of aggregation in razorbills and a strong tendency for colony-specific distributions in guillemots. Therefore, razorbills are predicted to have a lower likelihood of exposure to marine threats, but more severe potential impact due to the larger number of colonies affected. This interspecific difference may result in divergent population trajectories, despite the species sharing protection at their breeding sites. We highlight the importance of taking whole-year distributions into account in spatial planning to adequately protect migratory species.

KEY WORDS: Migration · Non-breeding · Populations · Seabirds · Spatial planning · Light-level geolocation · Alca torda · Uria aalge

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Cite this article as: Buckingham L, Bogdanova MI, Green JA, Dunn RE and others (2022) Interspecific variation in non-breeding aggregation: a multi-colony tracking study of two sympatric seabirds. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 684:181-197.

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