This study aims to provide consistent information to explain the steady declining trend in the number of breeding pairs of Antarctic shag Phalacrocorax bransfieldensis in two colonies on Nelson Island, South Shetland Islands, southern Atlantic sector of Antarctica, which was observed during the 1990s up to the mid 2000s over an overall monitoring period of over two decades. It addresses correspondence between long-term population trends of inshore demersal fish and inshore-feeding Antarctic shags of this area, where an intensive commercial fishery for shag prey once operated. The analysis also includes comparable information on diet (by examination of regurgitated pellets), foraging patterns, and breeding output of shags from the Danco Coast, western Antarctic Peninsula, an area where no commercial finfish fishery has ever existed. Integral study of these parameters there showed that, in Antarctic shags, low breeding success and high foraging effort might imply low recruitment and high adult mortality, respectively, with both factors adversely affecting the population trends of this bird. In line with these premises, the declining trend observed in shag colonies on the South Shetland Islands appears to have been influenced by the concomitant decrease in abundance of two of their main prey, the nototheniids Notothenia rossii and Gobionotothen gibberifrons, due to intensive industrial fishing in the area in the late 1970s. In comparison, no such pattern occurred for the Danco Coast colonies.
Numéro du document:
Esteban Barrera-Oro (Argentina)
Enrique Marschoff (Argentina)
Point(s) de l'ordre du jour
Polar Biol., (2015), doi: 10.1007/s00300-015-1850-5