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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13854

Year-round distribution of Northeast Atlantic seabird populations: applications for population management and marine spatial planning

Per Fauchald*, Arnaud Tarroux, Françoise Amélineau, Vegard Sandøy Bråthen, Sébastien Descamps, Morten Ekker, Halfdan Helgi Helgason, Malin Kjellstadli Johansen, Benjamin Merkel, Børge Moe, Jens Åström, Tycho Anker-Nilssen, Oskar Bjørnstad, Olivier Chastel, Signe Christensen-Dalsgaard, Jóhannis Danielsen, Francis Daunt, Nina Dehnhard, Kjell Einar Erikstad, Alexey Ezhov, Maria Gavrilo, Gunnar Thor Hallgrimsson, Erpur Snær Hansen, Mike Harris, Morten Helberg, Jón Einar Jónsson, Yann Kolbeinsson, Yuri Krasnov, Magdalene Langset, Svein-Håkon Lorentsen, Erlend Lorentzen, Mark Newell, Bergur Olsen, Tone Kristin Reiertsen, Geir Helge Systad, Paul Thompson, Thorkell Lindberg Thórarinsson, Sarah Wanless, Katarzyna Wojczulanis-Jakubas, Hallvard Strøm

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Abstract: Tracking data of marine predators are increasingly used in marine spatial management. We developed a spatial dataset with estimates of the monthly distribution of six pelagic seabird species breeding in the Northeast Atlantic. The dataset is based on year-round global location sensor (GLS) tracking data of 2356 adult seabirds from 2006-2019 from a network of seabird colonies, data describing the physical environment, and data on seabird population sizes. Tracking and environmental data were combined in monthly species distribution models (SDMs). Cross-validations were used to assess the transferability of models between years and breeding locations. The analyses showed that birds from colonies close to each other (<500 km apart) used the same nonbreeding habitats, while birds from distant colonies (>1000 km) used colony-specific, and in many cases, non-overlapping habitats. Based on these results, the SDM from the nearest model colony was used to predict the distribution of all seabird colonies lying within a species-specific cut-off distance (400-500 km). The uncertainties in predictions were estimated by cluster bootstrap sampling. The resulting dataset consists of 4692 map layers, each layer predicting the densities of birds from a given species, colony and month across the North Atlantic. The dataset represents the annual distribution of 23.5 million adult pelagic seabirds, or 87% of the Northeast Atlantic breeding population of the study species. We show how the dataset can be used in population and spatial management applications, including the detection of population-specific nonbreeding habitats and identifying populations influenced by marine protected areas.