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Contrasting Population Trends at Two Razorbill Colonies in Atlantic Canada: Additive Effects of Fox Predation and Hunting Mortality?


Lavers, JL and Jones, IL and Robertson, GJ and Diamond, AW, Contrasting Population Trends at Two Razorbill Colonies in Atlantic Canada: Additive Effects of Fox Predation and Hunting Mortality?, Avian Conservation and Ecology, 4, (2) pp. 3 ISSN 1712-6568 (2009) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2009 The Resilience Alliance on behalf of Bird Studies Canada and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists

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We developed a stochastic, stage-based, matrix-projection population model to assess population viability and estimate the impact of mortality caused by hunting, illegal and incidental to the murre (Uria sp.) hunt, and fox (Alopex lagopus) predation on Razorbill (Alca torda) populations breeding on the Gannet Islands, Labrador, the "affected" population, and Machias Seal Island, New Brunswick, the "unaffected" population. We estimated the potential population growth rate in the absence of anthropogenic mortality sources by using juvenile survival estimates from the relatively unaffected Machias Seal Island Razorbill population. We used data collected on fox predation on the Gannet Islands from 1978–2009 to estimate the change in productivity as a result of fox presence. The intrinsic growth rate (l) of the stochastic matrix based on vital rates from the Gannet Islands was 0.957±0.008 and 1.058±0.005 for Machias Seal Island. Hunting mortality reduced the predicted Gannet Islands population growth rate by 0.033, while fox predation reduced population growth rate by 0.017. These sources combined reduced the baseline population growth rate by 0.050. According to our model, the Razorbill population on Machias Seal Island appears to be growing rapidly. In contrast, the Gannet Islands population may decline, likely because of hunting. However, oceanographic differences between the two areas and uncertainty regarding dispersal behavior in this species may also contribute to the disparity between populations. Based on our findings, we make several recommendations for the conservation and management of Razorbills in Atlantic Canada.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Hunting mortality, fox predation, seabird population dynamics
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Ecology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Lavers, JL (Dr Jennifer Lavers)
ID Code:77908
Year Published:2009
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2012-06-04
Last Modified:2012-07-03

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