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Project - Migratory connectivity between Arctic breeding grounds and oceanic wintering areas of seabirds


Conservation goals for migratory birds can only be achieved if the full migration cycle between breeding and non-breeding is understood. In this proposal we aim to elucidate the migration of an elusive (and therefore poorly studied) group of bird species: long-distance migratory Arctic-breeding pelagic seabirds, some of which even undertake the epic journey between the Arctic and seas around Antarctica. Combining the recently developed technical tracking devices and isotope signatures analysis of feathers and egg material, opens the possibility to map resource use along individual migratory routes. Such information can be used to identify productive areas and areas of high conservation value. Capitalising on international collaboration we have the unique possibility to carry out simultaneous field studies at four Arctic sites on four different seabird species: Arctic skua Stercorarius parasiticus, long-tailed skua S. longicaudus, Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea and red-necked phalarope Phalaropus lobatus. These species cover different trophic levels (phalaropes low, terns and skuas high) and functions in both the marine and tundra ecosystems, but all share the same breeding areas. Especially in the light of expected developments in the Arctic (climate change, increase in shipping, oil and gas extraction, increase in fishing pressure), a thorough understanding of the connectivity of the Arctic with the oceans further south is paramount in conservation planning.

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Rob S. A. van Bemmelen, Yann Kolbeinsson, et al., 2019. A Migratory Divide Among Red-Necked Phalaropes in the Western Palearctic Reveals Contrasting Migration and Wintering Movement Strategies. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7

Rob S. A. van Bemmelen, Rohan H. Clarke, et al., 2018. Timing and duration of primary molt in Northern Hemisphere skuas and jaegers. The Auk 135 (4), 1043-1054

R van Bemmelen, B Moe, et al., 2017. Flexibility in otherwise consistent non-breeding movements of a long-distance migratory seabird, the long-tailed skua. Marine Ecology Progress Series 578, 197-211

Rob S. A. van Bemmelen, Johannes Hungar, et al., 2016. First geolocator tracks of Swedish red-necked phalaropes reveal the Scandinavia-Arabian Sea connection. Journal of Avian Biology 47 (3), 295-303

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