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Using remote video technology to study environmental factors influencing productivity of Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla



1Alaska SeaLife Center, 301 Railway Avenue, PO Box 1329, Seward, Alaska 99664, USA *(s.tanedo@yahoo.com)
2College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA

Received 12 January 2021, accepted 12 July 2021

Date Published: 2021/10/15
Date Online: 2021/09/30

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TANEDO, S.A., HOLLMÉN, T.E., MANISCALCO, J.M. & ULMAN, S.E.G. 2021. Using remote video technology to study environmental factors influencing productivity of Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla. Marine Ornithology 49: 293-299.

Key words: Rissa tridactyla, Black-legged Kittiwake, productivity, phenology, nest site, seasonal weather, remote cameras


Monitoring seabirds and their responses to ecosystem change provides essential information for understanding the reasons behind any changes in productivity or populations. However, many species nest in remote locations, which poses logistical challenges for long-term studies. Remote cameras offer an opportunity to confront this issue. The Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla (kittiwake) has been used as an indicator of changes in its environment and is a prime candidate for monitoring via remote cameras. To investigate the potential for camera application, we used a remote camera system to collect six years (2010-2015) of reproductive data from a sub-colony of kittiwakes in Resurrection Bay near Seward, Alaska, USA. Our objective was to identify factors influencing the reproductive success of kittiwakes at our study location by 1) establishing the reproductive phenology and estimates of productivity, 2) determining the effect of physical nest-site characteristics and locations on individual nest success, and 3) identifying the effect of seasonal weather patterns on nest, egg, and chick loss events. We found a significant positive correlation between nest success and both nest height from mean high tide level and nest location on island vs. mainland habitat. Nest loss was positively correlated with wind speed; egg loss was negatively correlated with wind speed; and chick loss was uncorrelated with measured weather conditions, including rainfall and air temperature. Remote camera technology proved to be a useful tool in monitoring and identifying factors influencing nesting parameters in this cliff-nesting seabird.


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