Polar Biology

, Volume 42, Issue 11, pp 2171–2176 | Cite as

Changes and consistencies in marine and coastal bird numbers on Kidney Island (Falkland Islands) over half a century

  • P. CatryEmail author
  • T. J. Clark
  • S. Crofts
  • A. Stanworth
  • E. D. Wakefield
Short Note


Detecting change is necessary for effective ecosystem management, yet temporal data on key ecosystem components are lacking for many polar and subpolar regions. For example, although the Falkland Islands hosts internationally important marine and coastal bird populations, few of these were surveyed until the late twentieth century. The avifauna of one small island, Kidney Island, was surveyed between 1958 and 1963, however. This typical tussac-covered island has remained free of non-native predators, so changes in its avifauna may reflect variation in the wider marine environment. In order to obtain a rare snapshot of such changes, we re-surveyed Kidney Island’s avifauna between 2017 and 2019, counting either individuals, breeding pairs or nest sites of marine and coastal waterbirds. Waterfowl, waders and cormorant populations were broadly stable, but several populations showed profound differences over the six decades between surveys. In particular, Southern Rockhopper penguins Eudyptes chrysocome collapsed from > 3000 to 200 pairs, while Sooty Shearwaters Ardenna grisea expanded by two orders of magnitude. Due to its isolation and tight fisheries management, the Falklands marine environment is assumed to be relatively pristine. Our limited results suggest that sufficient changes may nevertheless have occurred in the region’s marine ecosystem to have detectable impacts on breeding seabirds.


Kelp Goose Falkland Steamer duck Rockhopper penguin Ardenna gravis Haematopus ater Falkland Islands 



Funding was provided by the Falkland Islands Government, UK Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) grant NE/M017990/1, the Seabird Group and the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal (strategic Project MARE-UID/MAR/04292/2019 granted to MARE and IF/00502/2013/CP1186/CT0003). The South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute generously provided logistical support. Sally Poncet and Katrin Ludynia suggested valuable revisions to a previous version of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared no conflicts of interest. Work on Kidney Island was approved by the Environmental Committee of the Falkland Islands Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MARE, Marine and Environmental Sciences CentreISPA-Instituto UniversitárioLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative MedicineUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  3. 3.Wildlife Biology Program, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, W.A. Franke College of Forestry and ConservationUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  4. 4.Falklands ConservationStanleyFalkland Islands

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