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No way home: collapse in northern gannet survival rates point to critical marine ecosystem perturbation

Abstract : Seabirds are one of the most threatened of all bird groups, with a marked community-wide decline across the last decades. Yet, some seabird species are more resilient than others, and it is essential to study under which conditions even these highly resilient organisms are affected by global changes. Using global location sensors (GLS), demographic and stable isotope analyses, we performed a long-term study of the migration biology and inter-annual survival of northern gannets (Morus bassanus) breeding on Rouzic Island in Brittany, France. Across 2006-2015, our analyses showed that the birds spent the inter-breeding period off Western Europe, in the Mediterranean or off West Africa. There were no inter-annual trends in the use of these different areas, but isotopic analyses suggested food competition between gannets and industrial-scale fisheries. Crucially, we found a precipitous decline in the return rates of birds equipped with GLS, from 90% in 2006-2007 to less than 10% after 2015. This decline was consistent with a marked decrease in inter-annual survival probabilities for ringed adult gannets, from >90% in 2014-2015 to <60% in 2018-2019, and with a population decline of the Rouzic gannet breeding colony in recent years. Strong ecological signals provided by northern gannets point to critical marine ecosystem perturbation in the Eastern Atlantic, and the decline of this resilient and emblematic species should lead to the urgently needed transformation of marine policies.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 24, 2020 - 5:34:12 PM
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Gremillet et al 2020 preprint....
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David Grémillet, Clara Péron, Amélie Lescroel, Jérôme Fort, Samantha C. Patrick, et al.. No way home: collapse in northern gannet survival rates point to critical marine ecosystem perturbation. Marine Biology, Springer Verlag, 2020, 167 (12), pp.189. ⟨10.1007/s00227-020-03801-y⟩. ⟨hal-03022345⟩



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