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Interspecific variation in non-breeding aggregation: a multi-colony tracking study of two sympatric seabirds

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard BevanORCiD, Dr Chris RedfernORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 Inter-Research. All rights reserved. Migration is a widespread strategy for escaping unfavourable conditions during winter, but the extent to which populations that segregate during the breeding season aggregate during the non-breeding season is poorly understood. Low non-breeding season aggregation may be associated with higher likelihood of overlap with threats, but with fewer populations affected, whereas high aggregation may result in a lower probability of exposure to threats, but higher overall severity. We investigated non-breeding distributions and extent of population aggregation in 2 sympatrically breeding auks. We deployed geolocation-immersion loggers on common guillemots Uria aalge and razorbills Alca torda at 11 colonies around the northern UK and tracked their movements across 2 non-breeding seasons (2017-18 and 2018-19). Using 290 guillemot and 135 razorbill tracks, we mapped population distributions of each species and compared population aggregation during key periods of the non-breeding season (post-breeding moult and mid-winter), observing clear interspecific differences. Razorbills were largely distributed in the North Sea, whereas guillemot distributions were spread throughout Scottish coastal waters and the North, Norwegian and Barents Seas. We found high levels of aggregation in razorbills and a strong tendency for colonyspecific distributions in guillemots. Therefore, razorbills are predicted to have a lower likelihood of exposure to marine threats, but more severe potential impact due to the larger number of colonies affected. This interspecific difference may result in divergent population trajectories, despite the species sharing protection at their breeding sites. We highlight the importance of taking wholeyear distributions into account in spatial planning to adequately protect migratory species.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Buckingham L, Bogdanova MI, Green JA, Dunn RE, Wanless S, Bennett S, Bevan RM, Call A, Canham M, Corse CJ, Harris MP, Heward CJ, Jardine DC, Lennon J, Parnaby D, Redfern CPF, Scott L, Swann RL, Ward RM, Weston ED, Furness RW, Daunt F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine Ecology Progress Series

Year: 2022

Volume: 684

Pages: 181-197

Online publication date: 17/02/2022

Acceptance date: 16/11/2021

Date deposited: 28/04/2022

ISSN (print): 0171-8630

ISSN (electronic): 1616-1599

Publisher: Inter-Research


DOI: 10.3354/meps13960


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