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Distribution of seabirds in the Lower Estuary and Gulf of St Lawrence (Canada) during summer
Guse, N., Markones, N., Bolduc, F. & Garthe, S. (2013) Seabird 26:42-70
Abstract
We investigated the abundance and distribution patterns of a range of seabird species in the Lower Estuary and Gulf of St Lawrence in the western North Atlantic Ocean using ship-based surveys during the summers of 2007, 2008 and 2009. This area is known to be of particular importance for several seabird and cetacean species. We analysed distribution and abundance of common seabird species in mid and later summer, and estimated total numbers for the Southern Gulf, which was most intensively surveyed. Northern Gannets (Morus bassana) were overall most abundand and widespread. Our at-sea estimate of 150,000 birds for the Southern Gulf constitutes 64% of the North American breeding population, rendering the site one of the most important areas for this species worldwide during this period. Our at-sea estimates suggest that according to the 1% threshold of the Ramsar Convention considerable proportions of the Canadian breeding population of Razorbills (Alca torda, 5-11%), Common Guillemots (Uria aalge, 2-3%), Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla, 2-4%) and Black Guillemots (Cepphus grylle, 1-2%) use the Southern Gulf. Relative to their biogeographic populations, at-sea totals were also considerable in American Herring Gulls (Larus smithsonianus, 3-4%), Great Black-backed Gulls (L. marinus, 1-4%) and Great Northern Divers (Gavia immer, 1-4%). Areas of high seabird densities and multispecies aggregations (hotspots) occured around the Gaspe Peninsula (Northern Gannets, alcids, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Larus gulls), in the Northwestern Gulf, along the Lower North Shore (near St Mary's Islands), along the west coast of Newfoundland (Bay of Islands to St Georges Bay), in Cabot Strait, around Cape Breton Island and the Magdalen Islands as well as west and east of Prince Edward Island.

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