Report 538
Development of MSFD Indicators, Baselines and Target for the Annual breeding Success of Kittiwakes in the UK (2012)
(2014)
Cook, A. S. C. P., Dadam, D. & Robinson, R. A.
This report covers the development of an approach to derive an indicator of kittiwake breeding success, based on data held by the Seabird Monitoring Programme, separately for the Greater North Sea and Celtic Seas sub-regions.
 

Introduction


The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) has been developed with the objective of achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) across Europe’s marine environment by 2020. Seabirds have long been proposed as valuable indicators of the health of the marine environment.

One of the definitions of GES is that “the distribution and abundance of species should be in line with prevailing physiographic, geographic and climatic conditions”.  However, seabirds are typically long-lived, with expected lifespans of several decades, so changes in abundance often show a marked lag following any change in environmental drivers. Demographic parameters, like breeding success, are often more responsive to environmental changes than changes in population size. Seabird breeding success has been shown to be closely linked to food quality and availability. Consequently, tracking breeding success over a broad spatial scale would provide a valuable tool with which monitor the effect of anthropogenic activities on the wider marine environment.

Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) are considered to be highly sensitive to changes in food supplies as they show little ability to exploit alternative fish species if their main prey is unavailable; therefore they are an excellent candidate for an indicator species of sandeel availability. Previous work by Frederiksen et al (2004, 2007) found kittiwake breeding success in eastern Scotland and eastern England to be significantly negatively correlated with local mean winter Sea Surface Temperature (SST) during February and March of the previous year.

 
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ISSN 0963 8901
 
Please cite as: Cook, A. S. C. P., Dadam, D. & Robinson, R. A., (2014), Development of MSFD Indicators, Baselines and Target for the Annual breeding Success of Kittiwakes in the UK (2012), JNCC Report 538, ISSN 0963 8901