The effect of climate on adult survival in five species of North Atlantic seabirds

Authors

  • HANNO SANDVIK,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway;
    2. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Division of Arctic Ecology, Polar Environmental Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway; and
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  • KJELL EINAR ERIKSTAD,

    1. Department of Biology, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway;
    2. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Division of Arctic Ecology, Polar Environmental Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway; and
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  • ROBERT T. BARRETT,

    1. Zoology Department, Tromsø University Museum, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
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  • NIGEL G. YOCCOZ

    1. Department of Biology, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway;
    2. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Division of Arctic Ecology, Polar Environmental Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway; and
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Hanno Sandvik, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway. Tel: + 47 73 55 12 85; E-mail: hanno@evol.no

Summary

  • 1In long-lived species, adult survival is an important life-history trait. Better knowledge of the effects of non-catastrophic climate variation on the adult survival of long-lived seabirds is therefore needed. However, documentation of such effects is still rare.
  • 2Using capture–mark–resighting data, we modelled the annual survival rates of five species of seabirds, the common guillemot (Uria aalge), Brünnich's guillemot (Uria lomvia), razorbill (Alca torda), Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) and black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla). The data spanned 14 years of observation at a colony on Hornøya, off Northern Norway in the western Barents Sea.
  • 3A method of taking into account ring-loss of marked individuals is proposed. This approach made it possible to keep many observations which otherwise would have to be discarded.
  • 4The estimated survival rates were higher and less variable than most estimates for the same species from other colonies. There was extensive resighting heterogeneity. Ignoring this effect would have underestimated breeding life span by more than 50% in some species.
  • 5The analysis presented is the first study to document a correlation between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index and adult survival in North Atlantic seabirds. Other environmental variables considered were sea surface temperatures (SST) and prey stocks. In most of the species, models incorporating climatological variables were considerably better supported than models with constant survival, time-dependent survival or prey effects. SSTs tended to explain more of the variability in seabird survival than did the NAO.
  • 6The importance of prey availability was evident in some of the species, but climate was generally a better predictor of survival. Nevertheless, the evidence suggests that meteorological parameters affect seabird mortality only indirectly, possibly through the food chain. This conclusion rests on the observations that most NAO effects are lagged, and that survival rates decreased with increasing SSTs.

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