Factors Influencing Colony Attendance by Northern Fulmars in the Canadian Arctic

Keywords: colony attendance, Fulmarus glacialis, marine production, northern fulmar, weather


The northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) is a common seabird of the North Atlantic Ocean and marine areas of eastern Nunavut. We studied attendance patterns of fulmars at two colonies in the Canadian High Arctic to assess variation in attendance at high latitudes, to compare these patterns to those found for fulmars breeding at colonies to the south, and to determine how weather conditions and breeding status might influence attendance. Colony attendance patterns shared similarities across the species’ range, although local variation in the timing of food supplies may explain differences in the seasonal timing of peak counts at colonies. Stronger winds and extreme inclement weather resulted in lower counts of birds at colonies. Seasonal and daily variation in attendance was attributable to differences in the numbers of failed breeders or non-breeding birds. Changes toward earlier breakup and reduced extent of sea ice should lead to earlier peaks and continued short periodicities in colony attendance cycles of Arctic fulmars.