Distribution and abundance of Wilson's storm petrels
Oceanites oceanicus at two locations in East Antarctica: testing habitat selection models
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Olivier, F and Wotherspoon, SJ, Distribution and abundance of Wilson's storm petrels
Oceanites oceanicus at two locations in East Antarctica: testing habitat selection models, Polar Biology, 29, (10) pp. 878-892. ISSN 0722-4060 (2006) [Refereed Article]
Over the last decades, Antarctic seabird populations have been studied as bioindicators of the variability in the Southern Ocean marine ecosystem. Little information is available on the distribution and abundance of Wilson's storm petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) in East Antarctica although the bioindicator value of this species has been investigated. Regional surveys were conducted at two coastal locations, Casey (66°S, 110°E) and Mawson (67°S, 62°E), to locate Wilson's storm petrel nests using systematic searches in sites selected with a balanced random sampling design. Conducted in ice-free areas of similar size, searches located 553 Wilson's storm petrel nests at Mawson and 630 at Casey. Comparable densities were observed between locations but regional estimates suggest that Wilson's storm petrels are more abundant at Casey. Habitat preferences of Wilson's storm petrels were investigated using resource selection functions based on Generalized Additive and Linear Models (GAMs and GLMs), which allow their ecological niche to be graphically and quantitatively described. The orientation of nests in relation to the prevailing winds was identified as a determinant of nest distribution at both locations. However, selected rock substrate types differed between Mawson and Casey. Snow was confirmed to constrain the spatial distribution of nests, especially at Casey where snow precipitations and accumulation are more common in summer, confirming the results of previous temporal surveys focusing on breeding success. At the southern edge of its geographic distribution, the Wilson's storm petrel may be subject to more obvious climate related habitat changes in East Antarctica. Such models may provide valuable information to detect the potential effect of climate variations on this species and others, in the context of a broad Antarctic ecosystem monitoring. © Springer-Verlag 2006.
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