The ongoing decline of sea ice threatens many Arctic taxa, including the ivory gull. Understanding how ice-edges and ice concentrations influence the distribution of the endangered ivory gulls is a prerequisite to the implementation of adequate conservation strategies. From 2007 to 2013, we used satellite transmitters to monitor the movements of 104 ivory gulls originating from Canada, Greenland, Svalbard-Norway and Russia. Although half of the positions were within 41 km of the ice-edge (75% within 100 km), approximately 80% were on relatively highly concentrated sea ice. Ivory gulls used more concentrated sea ice in summer, when close to their high-Arctic breeding ground, than in winter. The best model to explain the distance of the birds from the ice-edge included the ice concentration within approximately 10 km, the month and the distance to the colony. Given the strong links between ivory gull, ice-edge and ice concentration, its conservation status is unlikely to improve in the current context of sea-ice decline which, in turn, will allow anthropogenic activities to develop in regions that are particularly important for the species.
One contribution to the special feature ‘Effects of sea ice on Arctic biota’.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3517344.
- Received April 5, 2016.
- Accepted October 7, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.