Report 461
The identification of possible marine SPAs for seabirds in the UK: The application of Stage 1.1-1.4 of the SPA selection guidelines
(2012)
Kober, K., Wilson, L.J., Black, J., O'Brien, S., Allen, S., Win, I., Bingham, C. & Reid, J.B.
Between January 2007 and October 2011 the JNCC conducted a series of analyses to inform the identification of possible marine Special Protection Areas in the UK based on data in the European Seabirds at Sea database.

Summary

 

In 2009, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds (a codified version of the ‘Birds Directive’ 79/409/EEC as amended). Member states are required to identify and classify the most suitable territories for the conservation of rare and vulnerable (listed in Annex I) and migratory bird species. To fulfil this obligation in the UK, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee is undertaking an in-depth analysis of an existing database (European Seabirds at Sea database) for the identification of seabird concentrations to inform any possible designation of Special Protection Areas in the marine area.

 

A first series of analyses took place between 2007 and 2010 and identified a suite of eight important areas for seabirds. This was a three-step process involving the generation of continuous seabird density distribution maps from point data using Poisson kriging, the delineation of seabird hotspots based on the Getis-Ord Gi* statistic, and the application of UK SPA selection Stages 1.1-1.3. The guidelines were applied to assess whether species fulfilled the guidelines of regular occurrence and meeting a 1% minimum population threshold. This work was presented in JNCC Report 431 (Koberet al 2010).

 

This critical analysis resulted in the identification of a restricted number of locations for a small number of species, addressing only part of their annual life-cycle; hence a second series of analyses was carried out to identify additional areas that might be considered under Stage 1.4 of the UK selection guidelines. A variety of procedures was considered for this second step. The method adopted as the most appropriate followed the same procedure as Kober et al (2010), but did not determine numerical thresholds for species; regularity of occurrence, however, was still taken into account. The rationale behind this was that (1) the application of a population threshold, even though suggested by the guidelines, might not be a suitable threshold in the marine environment (e.g. due to turnover of individuals), and (2) the available data were not sufficient to determine accurate population estimates. This second analysis identified an additional suite of 29 areas. The full application of Stage 1.4 of the UK SPA selection guidelines will involve the evaluation of these additional areas based on ecological criteria outlined in Stage 2 of the guidelines, e.g. population size and density, species range, multi-species areas, etc.

 

In addition to the areas identified under Stages 1.1-1.3 and those which will be considered under Stage 1.4 of the guidelines, five areas emerged that only just failed to meet the criterion of regularity by a narrow margin, so-called near-qualifying areas.

 

All areas that have resulted from the analysis should be considered further in the light of information from other sources and further assessed under Stage 2 of the SPA selection guidelines.

 

 
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A4, 85pp
ISSN 0963 8901
 
Please cite as: Kober, K., Wilson, L.J., Black, J., O'Brien, S., Allen, S., Win, I., Bingham, C. & Reid, J.B., (2012), The identification of possible marine SPAs for seabirds in the UK: The application of Stage 1.1-1.4 of the SPA selection guidelines, JNCC Report 461, A4, 85pp, ISSN 0963 8901