Alaska Science Center
Ecology and population status of Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) of the North Pacific
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Product Type: Government Publication
Authors: Hatch, S. A.
In the North Pacific, the breeding distribution of Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) includes about equal numbers of very large colonies (50,000-500,000 individuals) and relatively small ones (5-5,000 individuals). The almost complete segregation of light and dark colour phases between adjacent colonies in the Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk suggests there is little gene flow among the major colonies. Annual productivity averaged 0.42 chicks per breeding pair in 10 years at one colony in the Gulf of Alaska; adult survival was 0.97 per year over five years at the same location. There is no clear indication of population change at either of two large colonies studied, but several small colonies in the western Aleutians and northern Gulf of Alaska have increased since the mid-1970s. Fulmars appear to have low vulnerability to oil pollution and drifting gill nets, but they are relatively heavy consumers of plastic debris. Introduced predators probably reduced fulmar populations in the past. Population monitoring is recommended for one or more of the large Pacific colonies and several of the smaller ones. Small colonies may provide early indications of changing population status.