Landscape Ecology

, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 1089–1108 | Cite as

Large-scale effects on the spatial distribution of seabirds in the Northwest Atlantic

Research article


Scale questions are particularly important for organisms which range over large areas, as pelagic seabirds do. The investigations of scale are of practical importance for describing patch size of predator and prey, determining the appropriate scale of study and correcting survey transects. We conducted this study in order to explore a substantially wider diversity of spatial scales than has previously been attempted in the pelagic bird literature. As an example of large monitoring datasets dealing with seabirds, we use the PIROP (Programme intégré pour le recherche des oiseaux pélagiques) data set to investigate relevant large scale issues for these species in the Northwestern Atlantic. We analyzed autocorrelation within selected winter and summer transects, and for 1 degree analysis units (‘bins’) for data collected June–August 1966–1992. We also investigated effects of the analysis unit on counting results and on the links between seabirds and their environment (depth, sea surface salinity and temperature). We selected scales of 1, 2, 5 and 10 degrees analysis units; an ecological mapping scale (‘Banks’ not deeper than 200 m) and a political scale (management convention zones of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization, NAFO) were also included. Using ‘binning’ of various scales, our results show that the Coefficient of Variation for seabird abundances varies among aggregation scales, and that seabird associations with their environment can show scale effects. Autocorrelation of analysis units indicated some distinct larger scale patch sizes for particular species during the breeding season.


Across-scale analysis Autocorrelation Binning GIS Large-scale Northwest Atlantic PIROP seabird monitoring long-term database Seascape Seasonal seabird patches 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atlantic Cooperative Wildlife Ecology Research Network (ACWERN) and Faculty of Forestry and Environmental ManagementUniversity of New BrunswickFredericton N.B.Canada
  2. 2.Atlantic Cooperative Wildlife Ecology Research Network (ACWERN)University of New Brunswick (UNB)Fredericton N.B.Canada
  3. 3.EWHALE lab, Biology and Wildlife Department, Institute of Arctic BiologyUniversity of AlaskaFairbanks AlaskaUSA

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