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Food versus Disturbance: Contradictory Effects of Human Activities on an Opportunistic Seabird Breeding in an Oligotrophic Marine System

Food versus Disturbance: Contradictory Effects of Human Activities on an Opportunistic Seabird... <jats:p>The islands of the Aegean Sea are areas of high biodiversity and endemism and harbor globally important seabird communities. Resident seabirds breed on offshore islands, where they often form strong nesting colonies. Breeding seabirds are important determinants of an island’s ecosystem function while also being exposed to a plethora of human activities. Understanding how anthropogenic activities impact such populations is not just essential for seabird conservation but is also critically important for the management of small insular ecosystems and the native species communities they support. We quantify the effect of human activities on the size and locations of Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) colonies from the Cyclades and Sporades archipelagos. We gathered data on variables suspected to influence seabird colonies, including physical islet characteristics, resource availability, and type and extent of human disturbance. Analyses were conducted on the local (islet) and on the regional (island cluster) levels to identify proximate and ultimate factors shaping the breeding population sizes of resident colonies. On the local level, we identify a clear negative effect of the presence of invasive rats on gull nesting density. Similarly, the presence of feral grazing mammals such as goats and rabbits has negative impacts on gull populations, an effect that appears to be primarily mediated through nest disturbance. Access to landfills and fishing vessels both had positive impacts on gull nesting density. The presence of olive groves was also positively associated with the size of resident Yellow-legged Gull populations, highlighting the role of these anthropogenic food resources in gull diets. Our results suggest approaches to managing Yellow-legged Gull populations in the Mediterranean Basin by taking into consideration the roles of introduced mammals, fishing activities, and open-air landfills on seabirds in the region.</jats:p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Diversity CrossRef

Food versus Disturbance: Contradictory Effects of Human Activities on an Opportunistic Seabird Breeding in an Oligotrophic Marine System

Diversity , Volume 14 (6): 421 – May 25, 2022

Food versus Disturbance: Contradictory Effects of Human Activities on an Opportunistic Seabird Breeding in an Oligotrophic Marine System


Abstract

<jats:p>The islands of the Aegean Sea are areas of high biodiversity and endemism and harbor globally important seabird communities. Resident seabirds breed on offshore islands, where they often form strong nesting colonies. Breeding seabirds are important determinants of an island’s ecosystem function while also being exposed to a plethora of human activities. Understanding how anthropogenic activities impact such populations is not just essential for seabird conservation but is also critically important for the management of small insular ecosystems and the native species communities they support. We quantify the effect of human activities on the size and locations of Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) colonies from the Cyclades and Sporades archipelagos. We gathered data on variables suspected to influence seabird colonies, including physical islet characteristics, resource availability, and type and extent of human disturbance. Analyses were conducted on the local (islet) and on the regional (island cluster) levels to identify proximate and ultimate factors shaping the breeding population sizes of resident colonies. On the local level, we identify a clear negative effect of the presence of invasive rats on gull nesting density. Similarly, the presence of feral grazing mammals such as goats and rabbits has negative impacts on gull populations, an effect that appears to be primarily mediated through nest disturbance. Access to landfills and fishing vessels both had positive impacts on gull nesting density. The presence of olive groves was also positively associated with the size of resident Yellow-legged Gull populations, highlighting the role of these anthropogenic food resources in gull diets. Our results suggest approaches to managing Yellow-legged Gull populations in the Mediterranean Basin by taking into consideration the roles of introduced mammals, fishing activities, and open-air landfills on seabirds in the region.</jats:p>

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Publisher
CrossRef
ISSN
1424-2818
DOI
10.3390/d14060421
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

<jats:p>The islands of the Aegean Sea are areas of high biodiversity and endemism and harbor globally important seabird communities. Resident seabirds breed on offshore islands, where they often form strong nesting colonies. Breeding seabirds are important determinants of an island’s ecosystem function while also being exposed to a plethora of human activities. Understanding how anthropogenic activities impact such populations is not just essential for seabird conservation but is also critically important for the management of small insular ecosystems and the native species communities they support. We quantify the effect of human activities on the size and locations of Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) colonies from the Cyclades and Sporades archipelagos. We gathered data on variables suspected to influence seabird colonies, including physical islet characteristics, resource availability, and type and extent of human disturbance. Analyses were conducted on the local (islet) and on the regional (island cluster) levels to identify proximate and ultimate factors shaping the breeding population sizes of resident colonies. On the local level, we identify a clear negative effect of the presence of invasive rats on gull nesting density. Similarly, the presence of feral grazing mammals such as goats and rabbits has negative impacts on gull populations, an effect that appears to be primarily mediated through nest disturbance. Access to landfills and fishing vessels both had positive impacts on gull nesting density. The presence of olive groves was also positively associated with the size of resident Yellow-legged Gull populations, highlighting the role of these anthropogenic food resources in gull diets. Our results suggest approaches to managing Yellow-legged Gull populations in the Mediterranean Basin by taking into consideration the roles of introduced mammals, fishing activities, and open-air landfills on seabirds in the region.</jats:p>

Journal

DiversityCrossRef

Published: May 25, 2022

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