Inter-breeding movements of little auks Alle alle reveal a key post-breeding staging area in the Greenland Sea
Seabirds are important components in marine ecosystems. However, knowledge of their ecology and spatial distribution during the non-breeding season is poor.
More investigations during this critical period are required
urgently, as marine environments are expected to be profoundly affected by climate change and human activities,
with both direct and indirect consequences for marine top
predators. Here, we studied the distribution of little auks
(Alle alle), one of the most abundant seabird species worldwide. We found that after the breeding season, birds from East Greenland quickly travelled north-east to stay for several weeks within a restricted area in the Greenland Sea. Activity patterns indicated that flying behaviour was
much reduced during this period, suggesting that this is the primary moulting region for little auks. Birds then
performed a southerly migration to overwinter off Newfoundland. These preliminary results provide important
information for the conservation of this species and emphasise the need for further studies at a larger spatial scale.
Authors: Mosbech, Anders, Johansen, Kasper L., Bech, Nikolai I., Lyngs, Peter, Harding, Ann M.A., Egevang, Carsten, Phillips, Richard A., Fort, Jerome