Antarctic seabirds are important indicators of impacts and change in Southern Ocean ecosystems, but their isolated and remote breeding populations are challenging and expensive to assess and monitor using traditional methods. Remotely-operating time-lapse cameras offer a tool for cost-effective, large-scale assessment and monitoring. We demonstrate that robustly designed cameras can (1) operate over long periods in the harsh Antarctic environment, (2) identify the timing of important breeding events (phenology), (3) provide accurate estimates of breeding success, (4) standardize population counts made at sub-optimal times, and (5) through a network of cameras, quantify spatio-temporal variation in these parameters. By establishing a network of cameras at seabird breeding colonies across east Antarctica, we are now able to cost-effectively monitor aspects of seabird breeding parameters at the large spatial scales over which fisheries and climate change are expected to impact the Southern Ocean.
Mr Doug Cooper (CCAMLR Secretariat)