Status of High Arctic Black-Legged Kittiwake (<i>Rissa tridactyla</i>) Colonies in Barrow Strait, Nunavut, Canada

  • Mark L. Mallory
  • Jason A. Akearok
  • Anthony J. Gaston
Keywords: black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla, Arctic, population trend


We used aerial survey estimates, photographic censuses, and plot counts to examine trends in the size of five black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) colonies around Barrow Strait, eastern Nunavut, Canada, between 1972 and 2007. During these three decades, one small colony disappeared, two medium-sized colonies showed no overall trend, and one moderate and one large colony appeared to increase in size. Collectively, the number of kittiwakes breeding in this region may have increased by over 40%. Counts of kittiwakes at some colonies were markedly low in 2003, following two consecutive years of late, extensive sea ice, although overall there was no significant relationship between numbers of kittiwakes attending colonies and sea-ice extent in Barrow Strait and Lancaster Sound. It is not known why kittiwake colonies in High Arctic Canada have apparently increased while those in West Greenland and elsewhere have declined, or what factors influenced these changes.