Correlations between pelagic distribution of common and Brünnich's guillemots and their prey in the Barents Sea
AbstractCorrelations between guillemots (including Common Guillemots Uria aalge and Brünnich's Guillemots U. lomvia) and their prey (divided into five prey categories, capelin Mallotus villosus, herring Clupea harengus, polar cod Boreogadus saida, plankton, and a mixture of other prey species) at two depths (10-100 m and 100-200m) were estimated along an extended transect of 3,060 nautical miles (5,667 km) in the Barents Sea in April/May 1986. Spatial concordance was highest during daylight hours when the largest number of birds were seen on water (presumably feeding birds). Capelin was the single prey category which was most often associated with birds but no single prey category could alone explain the distribution of birds. Although only a small fraction of guillemots could be identified to species, there was some evidence that capelin were of greater importance to Common than to Brünnich's Guillemots. Overall correlation between birds and total prey density was statistically significant at the smallest scale of 5 nautical miles (n.m.). The removal of herring from the calculations increased the strength of the correlation. The depth at which prey was located had little effect on the distribution of birds. The correlation between birds and prey was scale dependent, and reached a maximum at 90 n.m., although there seemed to be some upper threshold in the coefficient at c. 40 n.m. Numerical concordance (including only 5 n.m. periods where both prey and birds were present) was significant at the 5 n.m. scale but was higher for high density than for low density prey patches. The results are discussed in relation to the few similar studies in other oceans and in relation to the severe reduction of important prey species in the Barents Sea.
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