Alaska Science Center
Colony attendance and population monitoring of Black-legged Kittiwakes on the Semidi Islands, Alaska
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Product Type: Journal Article
Authors: Hatch, S. A. and M. A. Hatch
Patterns of colony attendance in Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) were studied over 5 years on the Semidi Islands, western Gulf of Alaska. A census period of 50 days, extending from first egg laying through final hatching, was appropriate because counts made then were subject to the least amount of daily variation. Five counts during that period were sufficient to detect a 25% change in numbers between years; counts made on all 50 days of the census period would detect a 5 to 7% change. There was little evidence for seasonal trends or serial correlation of counts during the census period, but attendance was negatively correlated with wind speed. Half of an apparent 17% increase in population between 1980 and 1981 was due to birds spending more time at their nest sites in the latter year, thereby increasing the mean of attendance counts. Despite such difficulties in the interpretation of attendance counts, birds were considered to be better counting units for population monitoring than nests, because nest densities were subject to large annual fluctuations in breeding effort.