Seabird Abstracts

Distribution patterns and population trends of

breeding seabirds in the Aleutian Islands

Byrd GV, Renner HM & Renner M (2005) Fisheries Oceanography 14(s1):139-159

The 1800-km-long Aleutian Archipelago is a breeding area for more than 10 million seabirds of 26 species. We evaluated the distribution of breeding colonies of 24 common breeding species in relationship to ocean passes of two sizes, availability of nesting habitat and the distribution of introduced predatory mammals. Further, we evaluated population trends and reproductive rates to amplify information about distribution. We compared distributions and demographic parameters based on proposed differences in marine habitats in the eastern, central and western Aleutians. Samalga Pass did not appear as a break point for breeding seabird distribution as is suggested for oceanographic characteristics and other species groups by papers in this volume. Factors affecting distribution varied with foraging and nesting strategies of various species groups. The three largest breeding aggregations of seabirds in th Aleutians (Buldir, Chagulak and Kiska) all have relatively high species diversity and are located next to large passes. However, when other predictor were considered, proximity to medium or large passes was important mainly for surface-feeding piscivores. The extent of nesting habitat apparently does not limit the distribution of surface- or burrow-nesting species (including planktivores and piscivores). Instead the distribution of these species probably has been shaped by introduced mammals. Nesting habitat for ledge- and crevice-nesting species is more limited than for surface and burrow nesters but is still fairly widespread. Ledge- and crevice-nesting species are less susceptible to fox predation than are surface and burrow nesters. These species may have been reduced by predation but were not extirpated.

Keywords: Alaska, Aleutian Islands, invasive species, seabird distribution, seabird foraging patterns, seabird nesting habitat, seabird population trends


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