Assessing regional populations of ground-nesting marine birds in the Canadian High Arctic
The Queens Channel region of Nunavut is an ecologically distinct area within the Canadian High Arctic consisting of an extensive archipelago of small, low-lying gravel islands throughout which form several localized but highly productive polynyas. We used aerial survey and colony-monitoring data to assess regional- and colony-level fluctuations in the number of birds in this region between 2002 and 2013. Regional and colony-specific monitoring suggested that common eider (Somateria mollissima) numbers are increasing, while numbers of Arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea) may be in decline. Based on these data, we suggest that even infrequent comprehensive surveys are more useful than annual monitoring at specific sites in generating an accurate assessment of ground-nesting seabird populations at the regional level, and that dramatic fluctuations at individual colonies probably belie the overall stability of regional populations.
Keywords: Ground-nesting; seabirds; High Arctic; Nunavut; common eider; Arctic tern.
(Published: 7 April 2015)
Citation: Polar Research 2015, 34, 25055, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v34.25055
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Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to the Norwegian Polar Institute.