Status, Trends and Attendance Patterns of the Northern Fulmar <i>Fulmarus glacialis</i> in Nunavut, Canada

Keywords: northern fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis, Arctic, population status, population trend, colony attendance

Abstract

Nunavut supports ten breeding colonies of northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), most of which have rarely been visited on the ground by biologists. During 2000–04, we surveyed six colonies previously thought to support more than 80% of the Canadian Arctic population, which was believed to number about 300 000 breeding pairs. Our counts suggested that the breeding populations of some colonies, especially those at the largest colonies, Cape Searle and Prince Leopold Island, were substantially smaller than previously estimated. Our estimate for the total population of Nunavut was approximately 200 000 occupied sites. However, counts made at fixed monitoring plots at Prince Leopold Island and total colony estimates at Cape Vera, Devon Island, suggested no change in numbers at those colonies since the 1970s. Numbers present at the colony peaked in late June–early July and fell sharply after the end of July. Cyclical attendance, identified in an earlier study, was irregular in period length and was not seen in all years. We concluded that counts of Apparently Occupied Sites (AOS) conducted daily for 10–15 days are the best monitoring protocol for northern fulmars at these Arctic colonies. The great day-to-day variability in counts may have contributed to the large differences between past and recent population estimates.

Published
2009-12-18