Australia's BROKE-West Southern Ocean ecosystem survey records seabird assemblages in relation to krill

In 2006 Australian scientists surveyed a little-known part of the Southern Ocean off Antarctica, as recently summarized in an article by Steve Nicol in the Australian Antarctic Magazine (Issue 18, pp. 11-12).  Observations on seabirds made by Eric Woehler and colleagues during BROKE-West have now been published in a special issue of the journal Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography.

The seabird paper's abstract follows:

"Seabird surveys in January - March 2006 of a poorly known area of the Southern Ocean adjacent to the East Antarctic coast identified six seabird communities, several of which were comparable to seabird communities identified both in adjacent sectors of the Antarctic, and elsewhere in the Southern Ocean.  These results support previous proposals that the Southern Ocean seabird community is characterised by an ice-associated assemblage and an open-water assemblage, with the species composition of the assemblages reflecting local (Antarctic-resident) breeding species, and the migratory routes and feeding areas of distant-breeding taxa, respectively.  Physical environmental covariates such as sea-ice cover, distance to continental shelf and time of year influenced the distribution and abundance of seabirds observed, but the roles of these factors in the observed spatial and temporal patterns in seabird assemblages was confounded by the duration of the survey.  Occurrence of a number of seabird taxa exhibited significant correlations with krill densities at one or two spatial scales, but only three taxa (Arctic Tern, Snow Petrel and dark shearwaters, i.e. Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters) showed significant correlations at a range of spatial scales.  Dark shearwater abundances showed correlations with krill densities across the range of spatial scales examined."


Woehler, E.J., Raymond, B., Boyle, A. & Stafford, A. 2010.  Seabird assemblages observed during the BROKE-West survey of the Antarctic coastline (30°E-80°E), January - March 2006.  Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 57: 982-991.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 14 November 2010

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