Declines in marine bird populations in Prince William Sound, Alaska coincident with a climatic regime shift.

Author(s): 
Agler BA.
Kendall SJ.
Irons DB.
Klosiewski SP.
Waterbirds
Publication Date: 
1999

Agler BA, Kendall SJ, Irons DB, Klosiewski SP. 1999. Declines in marine bird populations in Prince William Sound, Alaska coincident with a climatic regime shift. Waterbirds 22(1):98-103.
Waterbirds The International Journal of Waterbird Biology (1999)

Abstract

Analyses of marine bird surveys conducted in Prince William Sound, Alaska in July 1972 were compared to surveys in July 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1993 and indicated that populations of several taxa of marine birds that prey on fish have declined in Prince William Sound, but most taxa that feed on other prey species, such as benthic invertebrates, have not declined. Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata), Pacific Loon C. pacifica, cormorant (Phalacrocorax spp.), Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata), Bonaparte's Gull (Larus philadelphia), terns (Sterna spp.), Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba), Brachyramphus murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus and B. brevirostris), Parakeet Auklet (Cyclorrhynchus psittacula),Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata), and Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata) populations declined by >50%. Most of these are piscivores, feeding on schooling fish. Some non-piscivorous taxa, such as Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus), goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula and islandica), and Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani), have increased in Prince William Sound between 1972 and 1989-1993, although a portion of the population was killed by the T/V Exxon Valdez oil spill. Declines in piscivorous bird populations also have been documented in the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering Sea, and along the California coast in the past two decades and have been coincidental to changes in forage fish species in the North Pacific Ocean. Many of the declines ap pear to be related to changes in forage fish abundance that occurred during a climatic regime shift in the north Pacific Ocean, although some taxa were also affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Contact Information

Author: Agler BA.
Author: Kendall SJ.
Author: Irons DB.
Author: Klosiewski SP.