Changing numbers of three gull species in the British Isles

Nager, R. G. and O'Hanlon, N. J. (2016) Changing numbers of three gull species in the British Isles. Waterbirds, 39(S1), pp. 15-28. (doi:10.1675/063.039.sp108)

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Abstract

Between-population variation of changes in numbers can provide insights into factors influencing variation in demography and how population size or density is regulated. Here, we describe spatio-temporal patterns of population change of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), Lesser Black-backed Gull (L. fuscus) and Great Black-backed Gull (L. marinus) in the British Isles from national censuses and survey data. The aim of this study was to test for density-dependence and spatial variation in population trends as two possible, but not mutually exclusive, explanations of population changes with important implications for the understanding of these changes. Between 1969 and 2013 the three species showed different population trends with Herring Gulls showing a strong decline, Great Black-backed Gulls a less pronounced decline and Lesser Black-backed Gulls an increase until 2000 but then a decline since. Population changes also varied between different regions of the British Isles, with the Atlantic coast showing declines and the North Sea coast increases in all three species. Population changes were density-dependent in the Herring Gull, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls showed faster population increases at lower Herring Gull densities. Contrasting numbers of gulls nest in coastal habitats or on roofs (mainly in urban habitats). Herring Gulls seem to seek refuge in urban environments, whereas Lesser Black-backed Gulls expand their range into the urban environment. The large declines in hitherto abundant species create a dilemma for conservation bodies in prioritizing conservation policies. The spatial variation in population changes and the differences between species suggest that there is no single cause for the observed changes, thus requiring region-specific conservation management strategies.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was in part supported by funding from the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme (project 2859 ‘IBIS’) managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Hanlon, Miss Nina and Nager, Dr Rudolf
Authors: Nager, R. G., and O'Hanlon, N. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Waterbirds
Publisher:Waterbird Society
ISSN:1524-4695
ISSN (Online):1938-5390
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Waterbird Society
First Published:First published in Waterbirds 39(S1): 15-28
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the Editor

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