Líffræðifélag Íslands - biologia.is
Líffræðiráðstefnan 2017

Erindi/veggspjald / Talk/poster E7

Icelandic seabirds as indicators of changes in the pelagic marine environment

Höfundar / Authors: Freydís Vigfúsdóttir (1)

Starfsvettvangur / Affiliations: 1. University of Iceland, Faculty of Life- and Environmental Sciences

Kynnir / Presenter: Freydís Vigfúsdóttir

The Northeast Atlantic is strongly affected by current climate change, and shifts in abundance and distribution of many organisms has been observed including northward range shift of many fish species and changes in euphausiid abundance. Increasing frequency of recent widespread seabird breeding failure and population decline is evident. Seabirds are of special value because of their status as higher predators: demographic changes can reflect impacts elsewhere in ecosystems, making them indicators of changes to marine resources. Iceland supports a large proportion of North Atlantic breeding seabirds and, while surveys of seabird abundance and demography in Iceland are limited, some data exists, mostly in grey literature, giving evidence of declines in several species. Here we present an overview of recent research on Icelandic marine environment, in relation to a review of Icelandic seabird data available to date. At least 10 seabird species South and West of Iceland experienced particularly poor breeding success, but some studies indicated better success in the North. However, most recent case studies indicate a worsening situation in the North during a period of northward movement of main prey after a displacement of the polar sea front. Although, particularly one species has benefitted from influx of new fish species in Icelandic waters, available information for 24 species show that the most important prey species overall was sandeel and then capelin in the North. Icelandic capelin and sandeel stocks have been at low levels and as long as that situation persists, poor performance of most Icelandic seabird species is expected.
This talk is submitted to be part of the specific session on the Icelandic Pelagic Environment hosted by Dr Anna Heiða Ólafsdóttir and Dr Freydis Vigfusdottir