The year-round distribution of Northeast Atlantic seabird populations: Applications for population management and marine spatial planning

Per Fauchald* (Corresponding Author), Arnaud Tarroux, Françoise Amélineau, Vegard Sandøy Bråthen, Sébastien Descamps, Morten Ekker, Hálfdán Helgi Helgason, Malin Kjellstadli Johansen, Benjamin Merkel, Borge Moe, Jens Åström, Tycho Anker-Nilssen, Oskar Bjørnstad, Olivier Chastel, Signe Christensen Dalsgaard, Jóhannis Danielsen, Francis Daunt, Nina Dehnhard, Kjell Einar Erikstad, Alexey EzhovMaria Gavrilo , Gunnar Thor Hallgrimsson, Erpur Snær Hansen, Mike Harris, Morten Helberg, Jón Einar Jónsson, Yann Kolbeinsson, Yuri Krasnov, Magdalene Langset, Svein-Håkon Lorentsen, Erlend Lorentzen, Mark Newell, Bergur Olsen, Tone Kristin Reiertsen, Geir Helge Systad , Paul Thompson, Thorkell Lindberg Thórarinsson, Sarah Wanless, Katarzyna Wojczulanis-Jakubas, Hallvard Strøm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Tracking data of marine predators are increasingly used in marine spatial management. We developed a spatial dataset with estimates of the monthly distribution of six pelagic seabird species breeding in the Northeast Atlantic. The dataset is based on year-round global location sensor (GLS) tracking data of 2356 adult seabirds from 2006-2019 from a network of seabird colonies, datadescribing the physical environment, and data on seabird population sizes. Tracking and environmental data were combined in monthly species distribution models (SDMs). Cross-validations were used to assess the transferability of models between years and breeding locations. The analyses showed that birds from colonies close to each other (< 500 km) used the same nonbreeding habitats, while birds from distant colonies (>1000 km) used colony-specific, and in many cases, non11 overlapping habitats. Based on these results, the SDM from the nearest model colony was used to predict the distribution of all seabird colonies lying within a species-specific cut-off distance (400-500 km). The uncertainties in predictions were estimated by cluster bootstrap sampling. The resulting dataset consists of 4692 map layers, each layer predicting the densities of birds from a given species, colony and month across the North Atlantic. The dataset represents the annual distribution of 23.5 million adult pelagic seabirds, or 87% of the Northeast Atlantic breeding population of the study species. We show how the dataset can be used in population and spatial management applications, including the detection of population-specific nonbreeding habitats and identifying populations influenced by marine protected areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-276
Number of pages22
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Early online date14 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Fulmarus glacialis
  • Uria aalge
  • Uria lomvia
  • Alle alle
  • Fratercula arctica
  • marine spatial planning


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