Náttúra og náttúrutilfeingi
Fylgisveinakanning av føroyskum havhesti.
(Satellite tracking of the Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) on the Faroe Islands)
Havstovan og Lunds Universitet
Thomas Alerstam, Stefan Garthe, Øystein Varpe og Petur Steingrund
Stuðul úr Granskingargrunninum:
Originally an Arctic bird species with a circumpolar distribution the Northern Fulmar can now be found breeding from the high arctic to about 45°N in both the North Atlantic, as well as the North Pacific. In the northern and eastern Atlantic it is found breeding in Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Svalbard, the Faroe Islands and Britain, with the southern edge of its eastern Atlantic range being as far south as northern France (Brittany). Since the Northern Fulmar started spreading southwards approximately 150 years ago it has increased dramatically in numbers and the North Atlantic population alone has been estimated to be 7,540,000 pairs.
The Northern Fulmar is the most numerous seabird species on the Faroe Islands. The breeding population has been estimated to be about 600,000 pairs (i.e. 16-26% of the Northeast Atlantic population) while a conservative estimate of the winter population being between 0.5 and 3 million individuals. Not surprisingly, being so numerous, the Northern Fulmar has been deemed to be the most significant member of the 21 seabird species in the marine ecosystem of the Faroe Islands, and its consumption has been estimated to be approximately half of all food taken by seabirds in Faroese waters. Despite its importance, remarkably little information exists regarding the Fulmars´ life-history on the Faroe Islands and movement in Faroese waters.
During 2013 to 2014 (this study) 20 Solar PTT satellite transmitters (PTTs) will be used to track the 20 individual adult Fulmars (10 males and 10 females) in order to study some important general questions regarding this species movement during, and outside the breeding season. In addition to studying some more general movements patterns the data from the satellite transmitters will also be used in combination with more specific detailed moulting data obtained from, but not used in, the project managers PhD work about the Northern Fulmar on the Faroe Islands. This will present us with the opportunity to study in much greater detail the whereabouts of the Fulmar during a critical period in Autumn-Winter when they moult all their primaries and tail feathers (main flying feathers) and thus are very vulnerable.
No such study has been done for this species and the rapid moulting period of the primary flying feathers during autumn-winter is largely unknown in the literature.
Furthermore this project will also shed some light on the Fulmars feeding ecology. Mainly where the birds get the high amounts of the Glacier Lanternfish, which was found, in the project managers PhD work, to be the most important food for the Faroese Fulmars. This has never been seen in any other dietary study of the Northern Fulmar and is highly interesting from a scientific point of view. Furthermore, tracking the birds will add some very important information regarding the general discussion the last 60-70 years, about the importance outcast from ships has as a food source for the Fulmar since this is asumed to have helped the relatively recent wide distribution of this originally arctic bird species.
The main objective of the project was to track the Northern Fulmar on the Faroe Islands using GSM/GPS transmitters. Although some changes were made regarding time and timing of attachment of the transmitters the fieldwork went very well and all transmitters were successfully attached during spring and summer 2014. The attachment of the transmitters was delayed firstly because of an misunderstanding from the transmitter producer and then by the realization that the transmitters could not recharge the batteries while the birds were incubating the eggs, and stayed on the nest for several days at a time.
Based on camera work on Fulmar nests I postulated in my PhD that the breeding Fulmar on the Faroe Islands went out feeding during the night and returned to the nest at first light.
A very interesting result so far from the tracking data shows that all the tracked birds flew south-east out to sea and stayed out at sea all night only to return to land the next morning. Interestingly this was also true for non-breeding birds.
The Fulmar is maybe best known for its ship following behaviour. One tracked Fulmar in this study showed a similar behaviour but instead of following ships he seemed to methodically go searching for food in areas with outlet from fish factories.
There were also some impressive flight tracks. The smallest bird carying a transmitter flew all the way to northern Norway in almost a straight line covering hundres of kilometers in a few days. She (probably a non-breeding female) then continued all way to Murmansk in the Russian part of the Barents sea. The last data showed her flying forth and back along the northernmost parts of the Norwegian coast.
Unfurtunately the data received so far is not enough for a publication in an scientific journal on its own, but if no more data is coming from the transmitters it might be used for publishing together with similar data from other studies.
I have used quite some time working with MoveBank, an internet based database with animal movement data from all over the world. One of the aims with this database is to help people sitting on some data, finding each other in order to make possible combined publications of smaller datasets.
Furthermore the data I have so far might very well be interesting for publication in e.g. a more general public friendly journal, magazine or homepage.
Scientific articles, books, thesis etc.
Debes, H., i Homrum, Ey., Jacobsen, J. A., Hatun, H., Danielsen, J and Djuurhus, A. 2014. The feeding ecology of pelagic fish in the southwestern Norwegian Sea – Inter species food competition between herring (Clupea harengus) and mackerel (Scomber scombrus).(submitted)
Hansen, L. J., Danielsen, J., Joensen, C. and Sigurdardóttir, S. S. Drunnhvíti Hydrobates pelagicus: Teljing í Nólsoy í 2013. Føroya Náttúrugripasavn, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. (European Stormpetrel Hydrobates pelagicus: Transect counting results from Nólsoy, Faroe Islands, 2013)
Hansen, L. J., Simonsen, W., Olsen, B., & Danielsen, J. 2013. Drunnhvíti Hydrobates pelagicus: Fyribils mannagongd fyri teljing. Føroya Náttúrugripasavn, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. (European Stormpetrel Hydrobates pelagicus: Preliminary report and transect counting methods on Nólsoy, Faroe Islands, 2013)
Hansen, L. J., Danielsen, J., Joensen, C. and Sigurdardóttir, S. S. Lundi Fratercula arctica grabae: Teljing í Mykinesi í 2013. Føroya Náttúrugripasavn, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. (Puffin Fratercula arctica grabae: Transect counting results from Mykines, Faroe Islands, 2013)
Current status on marine litter indicators in Nordic waters. Strand, J., Tairova, Z., Magnusson, K., Danielsen, J., Naustvol, L-J., Sørensen, T. K. and Hansen, J. W. NMC conference on plastics in the marine environment. September 24, 2014. Reykjavík, Iceland. (poster)
Other results, such as unpublished articles, patents, computer systems, original models and new procedures
Danielsen, J. Højgaard, D. P., Steingrund, P. and Hátún, H. 2014. Nest-site attendance of Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) on the Faroe Islands regulated by wind and proximity of food. (in prep.)
Mindaugas Mitkus, Gabrielle Nevitt, Jóhannis Danielsen and Almut Kelber. 2014. Anatomical investigation of visual acuity in two species of Procellariiform seabirds. (in prep.)
Jakob Strand, Jóhannis Danielsen, Kerstin Magnusson, Lars-Johan Naustvoll, Thomas Kirk Sørensen, Zhanna Tairova and Jens Würgler Hansen. Marine Litter in Nordic waters. Tema Nord Report for the Nordic Ministry Council. 2014. (to be finished in Nov.-Dec 2014)
Plastic waste in the ocean. Tema Nord Report for the Nordic Ministry Council. 2014. (Author sequence to be determined)
Publications outside the scientific community, i.e. lectures, periodicals, articles in newspapers, television and radio
Gave a Live interview 30 May, 2013, to the 12 o´clock news on the Faroese radio station “Rás 2” about my satellite transmitter postdoc “Satellite tracking of the Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) on the Faroe Islands” and the funding received from the Faroese Research Council (Granskingarráðið) to this project.
Was interviewed 30 May, 2013, by the Faroese National Radio and TV station “Kringvarpið” about my satellite transmitter postdoc “Satellite tracking of the Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) on the Faroe Islands” and the funding received from the Faroese Research Council (Granskingarráðið) to this project.