Vol.30, No.04. 2019
Table of Contents
ARTICLE | Biology and Ecology
Very low biodiversity of top predators—seabirds and marine mammals—in the high Arctic Ocean
Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org ORCID:
During the ARK-XXIII/3 expedition of icebreaking RV Polarstern in the high Arctic Ocean (partim north of 73°N) from 25 August to 10 October 2008, 550 transect counts lasting 30 min were devoted to seabird and marine mammal counts from the bridge. In the whole area, the three most numerous species, kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, fulmar Fulmarus glacialis and Brünnich’s guillemot Uria lomvia represented 90% of the total of 12000 individuals registered, followed by ivory gull Pagophila eburnea, black guillemot Cepphus grylle and Ross’s gull Rodostethia rosea. Four geographical zones were recognized on the basis of number of species and density. Both were especially low in the deeper areas (mean depth of 3000 m), both ice-free and heavily ice-covered: 0.3 birds per 30 min count belonging to three and four species respectively. The most numerous species was kittiwake with 0.25 per count (50 individuals) in the ice-covered area. Pinniped numbers were very low as well, the most numerous of the four species tallied being 20 harp seals Phoca groenlandica and 10 ringed seal Pusa hispida. Seven polar bears Ursus maritimus were encountered. These observations were basically confirmed during 12 helicopter flights lasting one hour each with very low numbers: 50 kittiwakes and 13 harp seals, almost none in the ice-covered deep zone. A comparison between data obtained from ship and from helicopter seems however to reflect the importance of seabird followers including for long distances. The only cetaceans were two adult belugas Delphinapterus leucas tallied from helicopter.
1 Laboratory for Polar Ecology (PolE), 26130 Saint-Restitut, France; 2 Conservation Biology Unit, Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences (RBINS), 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Ainley D G, Jacobs S S, Ribic C A, et al. 1998. Seabird distribution and oceanic features of the Amundsen and southern Bellingshausen seas. Antar Sci, 10(2): 111-123.
Force M P, Santora J A, Reiss C S, et al. 2015. Seabird species assemblages reflect hydrographic and biogeographic zones within Drake Passage. Polar Biol, 38(3): 381-392.
Huettmann F, Artukhin Y, Gilg O, et al. 2011. Predictions of 27 Arctic pelagic seabird distributions using public environmental variables, assessed with colony data: a first digital IPY and GBIF open access synthesis platform. Marine Biodiversity, 41(1): 141-179.
Humphries G R W, Huettmann F. 2014. Putting models to a good use: a rapid assessment of Arctic seabird biodiversity indicates potential conflicts with shipping lanes and human activity. Diversity Distributions, 20(4): 478-490.
Hyrenbach K D, Veit R R, Weimerskirch H, et al. 2007. Community structure across a large-scale ocean productivity gradient: marine bird assemblages of the southern Indian Ocean. Deep-Sea Res I, 54(7): 1129-1145
Joiris C R. 2018. Seabird and marine mammal “hotspots” in polar seas. Lambert Academic Publishing, Düsseldorf, Germany, 48, ISBN: 978-620-2-19805-9.
Joiris C R. 2011. Possible impact of decreasing Arctic pack ice on the higher trophic levels—seabirds and marine mammals. Adv Environ Res, 23: 207-221.
Joiris C R. 1978. Seabirds recorded in the northern North Sea in July: the ecological implications of their distribution. Gerfaut, 68: 419-440.
Joiris C R, Boos K, D’Hert D, et al. 2016. Low density of top predators (seabirds and marine mammals) in the high Arctic pack ice. Scientifica, 14, doi: 10.11.1155/2016/1982534.
Joiris C R, Falck E, D’Hert D, et al. 2014. An important late summer aggregation of fin whales Balaenoptera physalus, little auks Alle alle and Brünnich’s guillemots Uria lomvia in the eastern Greenland Sea and Fram Strait: influence of hydrographic structures. Polar Biol, 37(11): 1645-1657, doi: 10.1007/s00300-014-1551-5.
Joiris C R, Falck E. 2011. Summer at-sea distribution of little auks Alle alle and harp seals Pagophilus (Phoca) groenlandica in the Greenland Sea: impact of small-scale hydrological events. Polar Biol, 34(4): 541-548, doi: 10.1007/s00300-010-0910-0.
Jokat W. 2009. The expedition of the research vessel “Polarstern” to the Arctic in 2008 (ARK-XXIII/3). Rep Polar Marine Res, 597: 221.
Pocklington R. 1979. An oceanographic interpretation of seabird distributions in the Indian Ocean. Mar Biol, 51(1): 9-21.
Ribic C A, Ainley D G, Ford R G, et al. 2011. Water masses, ocean fronts, and the structure of Antarctic seabird communities: putting the eastern Bellingshausen Sea in perspective. Deep-Sea Res II, 58(13-16), 1695-1709.
Yurkowski D J, Auger-Méthé M, Mallory M L, et al. 2018. Abundance and species diversity of tracked marine predators across the North American Arctic. Diversity and Distributions, 1-18, doi: 10.1111/dd i.12860.