Skomer Seabird Report 2014

Stubbings, EM, Büche, BI, Wilson, A, Green, RA and Wood, Matthew J ORCID: 0000-0003-0920-8396 (2014) Skomer Seabird Report 2014. Documentation. Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, Cardigan.

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Abstract

This document reports upon the 2014 breeding season for seabirds on Skomer Island, drawing together the work of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) staff, volunteers, and research institutions including the University of Gloucestershire. The report includes whole island population counts, study plot counts and estimates of breeding success from fieldwork this year, and breeding adult survival estimates from long-term capture-recapture studies. Part of this work is funded by the Joint Nature Conservancy Council (part of the UK Government’s Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) for the monitoring of Skomer’s seabird populations as a key site for the Seabird Monitoring Programme. The table below summarises population counts for ten species in 2014 and makes comparison with the previous year as well as giving a five year percentage change. The gaps in the data are the total number of Shags nests on the main part of Skomer in 2014 and a whole island population count for Herring Gulls in 2013. Early indications suggest the winter storms of 2013/14 negatively affected the survival of several species of seabird (particularly Puffin, Guillemot and Razorbill), although data from at least one more year are required for a definitive result. Whole island seabird population counts for 2014. Counts are compared with 2013 and giving a five year percentage change Species and count units Totals for 2014 Totals for 2013 % Change from 2013 5 Year % Change Fulmar (AOS) 556 503 +10.54 +4.91 Cormorant (AON) 6 7 -14.30 +100.00 Shag (AON) - 5 Lesser Black Backed Gull (AON) 8432 8132 +3.6 -11.2 Herring Gull (AON) 440 +2.09 Greater Black Backed Gull (AON) 107 84 +27.40 -9.32 Black-legged Kittiwake (AON) 1488 1045 +42.40 -22.58 Guillemot (IND) 23493 20862 +12.61 +17.69 Razorbill (IND) 6541 6663 -1.83 +21.33 Puffin (IND) 18237 19280 -5.41 +45.00 Count units used in this report AOS-Apparently Occupied Site AON-Apparently Occupied Nest AOT-Apparently Occupied Territory IND-Individual Fulmar: The whole island count was up by 10.54% on 2013. There was, however, a drop in numbers within the study plot areas from 147 AOS to 112 AOS. Productivity was higher than any of the last six years at 0.45 chicks per AOS, slightly below the average productivity over the period 1986 to 2011 (0.48). Manx Shearwater: The breeding study plot census was completed by students from the University of Gloucestershire. Breeding success was the highest since 1998 at 0.71 fledged young per egg laid. Lesser Black-backed Gull: A much better year in 2014, with just a small population increase of 3.6% on the previous year but a considerable increase in productivity from 0.076 in 2013 (a very poor year) to 0.57 in 2014 – higher than average for the last 20 years. Herring Gull: Better coverage in 2014 with an island population of 440 and productivity of 0.52 chicks fledged per AON. Black-legged Kittiwake: Productivity was up on 2013 (0.33) at 0.64 and was the highest since 2010. The Whole island population count was also up by 42.40%. Guillemot: The whole island count was up by 12.61% on 2013. Although the whole island count and study plot counts were both up on the previous year it is important to note that this is a common effect of a seabird wreck, where young birds occupy gaps in the breeding colonies, and the true effect of the winter storms may not be felt for several years. Productivity in the study plots monitored by the Field Worker (A Wilson) was the same as in the previous two years at 0.63 (this is just below the overall mean of 0.68). Students working under Professor Tim Birkhead from Sheffield University also reported lower than average breeding success in 2014. Razorbill. The whole island count was down by 1.83% on 2013, and the study plots were down by 12.4%. Productivity was 0.27 chicks per active and regularly occupied site which is considerably lower than the mean of 0.49. Atlantic Puffins: The maximum whole island spring count was down by 5.41% on 2013. Productivity was 0.53 chicks fledged per burrow, which is 25% lower than 2013. Only 59.5% of 2013’s breeding adults returned to Skomer in 2014, a 25% drop compared with 2012-2013 (84.2%), although accurate survival estimates require at least one more year’s data to put 2014 into context with the average adult survival of 91.1% since 1972. The last two years have seen two of the latest breeding seasons on record, bucking the recent trend for earlier breeding.

Item Type: Monograph (Documentation)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Seabird survey; Skomer Island, Wales
Related URLs:
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL605 Chordates. Vertebrates > QL671-699 Birds
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Natural & Social Sciences > Environmental Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Environmental Dynamics & Governance
Depositing User: Matt Wood
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2018 15:22
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2018 15:23
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/5808

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