Alaska Science Center
Adult survival of Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla in a Pacific colony
Start a New Search | Return to existing search by pressing your browser's back arrow
Product Type: Journal Article
Authors: Hatch, S. A., B. D. Roberts, and B. S. Fadely
Breeding Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) survived at a mean annual rate of 0.926 in four years at a colony in Alaska. Survival rates observed in sexed males (0.930) and females (0.937) did not differ significantly. The rate of return among nonbreeding kittiwakes (0.839) was lower than that of known breeders, presumably because more nonbreeders moved away from the study plots where they were marked. Individual nonbreeders frequented sites up to 5 km apart on the same island, while a few established breeders moved up to 2.5 km between years. Mate retention in breeding kittiwakes averaged 69% in three years. Among pairs that split, the cause of changing mates was about equally divided between death (46%) and divorce (54%). Average adult life expectancy was estimated at 13.0 years. Combined with annual productivity averaging 0.17 chick per nest, the observed survival was insufficient for maintaining population size. Rather, an irregular decline observed in the study colony since 1981 is consistent with the model of a closed population with little or no recruitment. Compared to their Atlantic counterparts, Pacific Kittiwakes have low productivity and high survival. The question arises whether differences reflect phenotypic plasticity or genetically determined variation in population parameters.