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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13400

Sharing wintering grounds does not synchronize annual survival in a high Arctic seabird, the little auk

Sébastien Descamps*, Benjamin Merkel, Hallvard Strøm, Rémi Choquet, Harald Steen, Jérome Fort, Maria Gavrilo, David Grémillet, Dariusz Jakubas, Kurt Jerstad, Nina J. Karnovsky, Yuri V. Krasnov, Børge Moe, Jorg Welcker, Katarzyna Wojczulanis-Jakubas

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Sharing the same wintering grounds by avian populations breeding in various areas may synchronize fluctuations in vital rates, which could increase the risk of extinction. Here, by combining multi-colony tracking with long-term capture-recapture data, we studied the winter distribution and annual survival of the most numerous Arctic seabird, the little auk Alle alle. We assessed whether or not little auks from different breeding populations in Svalbard and Franz Josef Land use the same wintering grounds and if this leads to synchronized survival. Our results indicate that birds from the Svalbard colonies shared similar wintering grounds, though differences existed in the proportion of birds from each colony using the different areas. Little auks from Franz Josef Land generally spent the winter in a separate area but some individuals wintered in the Iceland Sea with Svalbard populations. Survival data from three Svalbard colonies collected in 2005-2018 indicated that sharing wintering grounds did not synchronize little auk annual survival rates. However, it is clear that the Iceland Sea is an important wintering area for little auks and environmental changes in this area could have widespread impacts on many populations.