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Biol Lett. 2016 Nov;12(11). pii: 20160277.

Living on the edge of a shrinking habitat: the ivory gull, Pagophila eburnea, an endangered sea-ice specialist.

Author information

1
Université de Bourgogne Franche Comté, UMR 6282 Biogéosciences, 21000 Dijon, France olivier.gilg@gmail.com.
2
Groupe de Recherche en Ecologie Arctique (GREA), 21440 Francheville, France.
3
Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP), University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
4
Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway.
5
National Park Russian Arctic, 168000, Archangelsk, Russia.
6
Department of Biology, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada B4P 2R6.
7
Environment Canada, National Wildlife Research Centre, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
8
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany.
9
Department of Bioscience and Arctic Research Center, Aarhus University, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark.
10
Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Savoie Mont Blanc, 73376 Le Bourget-Du-Lac, France.

Abstract

The ongoing decline of sea ice threatens many Arctic taxa, including the ivory gull. Understanding how ice-edges and ice concentrations influence the distribution of the endangered ivory gulls is a prerequisite to the implementation of adequate conservation strategies. From 2007 to 2013, we used satellite transmitters to monitor the movements of 104 ivory gulls originating from Canada, Greenland, Svalbard-Norway and Russia. Although half of the positions were within 41 km of the ice-edge (75% within 100 km), approximately 80% were on relatively highly concentrated sea ice. Ivory gulls used more concentrated sea ice in summer, when close to their high-Arctic breeding ground, than in winter. The best model to explain the distance of the birds from the ice-edge included the ice concentration within approximately 10 km, the month and the distance to the colony. Given the strong links between ivory gull, ice-edge and ice concentration, its conservation status is unlikely to improve in the current context of sea-ice decline which, in turn, will allow anthropogenic activities to develop in regions that are particularly important for the species.

KEYWORDS:

Arctic; ice concentration; ice-edge; satellite microwave radiometers; satellite tracking; seabird

PMID:
27807248
PMCID:
PMC5134029
DOI:
10.1098/rsbl.2016.0277
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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