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.


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Authors: Mosbech, Anders, Johansen, Kasper L., Bech, Nikolai I., Lyngs, Peter, Harding, Ann M.A., Egevang, Carsten, Phillips, Richard A., Fort, Jerome

On this site: Richard Phillips
1 January, 2012
Polar Biology / 35
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