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Ecological structure among migrant and resident seabirds of the Scotia-Weddell Confluence region
Ainley, D.G.; Ribic, C.A.; Fraser, W.R. (1994). Ecological structure among migrant and resident seabirds of the Scotia-Weddell Confluence region. J. Anim. Ecol. 63: 347-364
In: Journal of Animal Ecology. Blackwell Science/British Ecological Society: Oxford. ISSN 0021-8790, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Community structure; Habitat expansion; Habitat preferences; Resident and migratory avifaunas; Ecological structure; Antarctic pelagic seabirds; Ocean; Waters

Authors  Top 
  • Ainley, D.G.
  • Ribic, C.A.
  • Fraser, W.R.

    1. We quantitatively assess seasonal changes in community structure and habitat selection among seabirds in the Scotia-Weddell Confluence region, Antarctica. Additionally, we discuss the biological and physical factors underlying the patterns. Data were derived from strip-transects on closely-coordinated multidisciplinary cruises that characterized the physics and biology during spring 1983, autumn 1986 and winter 1988.2. We describe for the first time ever for the Southern Ocean seasonal changes in seabird communities in terms of composition, using cluster analysis, as well as relative density and diversity among species. Sea-surface temperature, distance to the pack ice edge and ice type, all physical characteristics of habitat, were the most important environmental variables that affected assemblage composition. We identified three recurrent assemblages of species. One persistent assemblage, present year round, was associated with the pack ice; another was associated with open waters immediately adjacent to the ice; and a third was a far-from-ice assemblage. Only the two open-water assemblages changed markedly on a seasonal basis.3. Close similarity of patterns in the spring 1983 data with those collected during spring 1976 in the Ross Sea, on the other side of Antarctica, supported our contention that we were comparing seasonal and not interannual differences in community structure.4. In spite of a major reduction in the number and density of species in the open-water assemblages during winter, the pack-ice assemblage exhibited no habitat expansion, which might be expected if competition affected community structure and habitat selection. The pack ice, in contrast to the adjacent open water, is a habitat in which food is abundantly available year round for an assemblage of species specialized to exploit the opportunities present. Unspecialized species vacate the region when food becomes sparse.

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