Volume 46, No. 1

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Fish and seabird spatial distribution and abundance at the largest seabird colony in the Baltic Sea


1 Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Marine Research, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Turistgatan 5, Lysekil SE 45330, Sweden (
2 Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm SE 106 91, Sweden
3 Department of Biology, Centre for Animal Movement Research, Lund University, Lund SE 22362, Sweden
4 Ombustvedtveien 20, 1592 Våler i Ø., Norway


HENTATI-SUNDBERG, J., EVANS, T., ÖSTERBLOM, H., HJELM, J., LARSON, N., BAKKEN, V., SVENSON, A. & OLSSON, O. 2018. Fish and seabird spatial distribution and abundance at the largest seabird colony in the Baltic Sea. Marine Ornithology 46: 61 - 68

Received 15 December 2016, accepted 11 December 2017

Date Published: 2018/4/15
Date Online: 2018/3/12
Key words: Alca torda, ecosystem-based management, ecosystem surveys, forage fish, Larus argentatus, Larus fuscus, Phalacrocorax carbo, Uria aalge


We studied the at-sea distribution of two auks (Common Murre Uria aalge, Razorbill Alca torda), two gulls (Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus, Herring Gull Larus argentatus), and Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo during the peak breeding season of 2014 around Stora Karlsö, the main Baltic Sea seabird colony. Simultaneously, we quantified forage fish abundance and distribution using hydro-acoustics and pelagic trawling. The auks and gulls had a roughly similar distribution, foraging mainly about 40 km west-northwest from the colony. Great Cormorants were found only in inshore areas, close to the colony. Sprat Sprattus sprattus and herring Clupea harengus biomass was, respectively, 1.38 and 2.68 mt/km2 averaged over the whole study area. These estimates represent a total biomass for small pelagic fish of 17 900 t in the 4 408 km2 study area. The estimated prey consumption over the breeding season was 2 310 t for Common Murre and Razorbill combined. Thus, auks may have a non-negligible impact on their prey sources in the region. Common Murres foraged closer to the colony (median 36.3 km) than Razorbills (median 41.1 km), but we found no significant correlation between auk at-sea numbers and fish densities. We discuss how new technology can contribute to detailed monitoring of the interactions between seabirds and fish at different spatial and temporal scales, with the ultimate aim of providing a scientific basis for ecosystem-based management.


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