Common Guillemots Uria aalge differentiate their niche to coexist with colonizing Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo
Hjernquist M.B., Hjernquist, M., Hjernquist B. & Thuman Hjernquist, K.A. (2005) Atlantic Seabirds 7(2):23-29
Colonization of new species into an established community generally results in interspecific competition over resources between the colonist and existing members of the community. Interspecific competition has been suggested to influence extinction rates, population dynamics, community structure, niche differentiation and evolution. In this study, we observe possible interspecific competition over breeding sites resulting in niche differentiation and coexistence of Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo and Common Guillemots Uria aalge in a seabird cliff community. In Sweden, Great Cormorants have naturally increased and expanded during the last two decades. Here, we show that most Common Guillemots previously bred on cliff ledges with high roof heights before the study island was colonized by Great Cormorants, but are now mainly found breeding on cliff ledges with lower roof heights. A temporary decline in the Common Guillemot population coincided with the colonization event and we discuss the potential for this decline to be caused by increased nest-site competition combined with high nest-site fidelity.
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