Long-term Declines in the Size of Northern Fulmar (<i>Fulmarus glacialis</i>) Colonies on Eastern Baffin Island, Canada

Keywords: seabird; monitoring; populations; Arctic

Abstract

We censused three colonies of Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) along eastern Baffin Island, Canada, that were estimated to support 155 000 breeding pairs in 1973, but had not been adequately counted since then. The colonies were surveyed in July and August 2018 using photographs taken from a helicopter or a drone. The combined estimated colony sizes were 36 500 pairs, much smaller than historical estimates. Although the 1973 estimates were coarse, this difference represents an apparent 3+% annual decline in numbers at each colony over approximately four decades or more than 87% over three generations (66 years). Several factors may be contributing to these declines, including changes in winter food supplies and the susceptibility of fulmars to fisheries bycatch. We recommend efforts to survey the remaining major fulmar colonies in Arctic Canada to assess the overall population size and trends, and allow for further analyses of potential population drivers.

Published
2020-07-03