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Nordic Seabird Colony Databases

Results of a Nordic project on seabird breeding colonies in Faroes, Greenland, Iceland, Jan Mayen and Svalbard

image of Nordic Seabird Colony Databases

Internationally important seabird resources are found in the Nordic countries (Greenland, Faeroes, Iceland, Jan Mayen, and Svalbard). To fulfill a recommendation of the Arctic Nordic Action Plan 1999, a project was carried out to harmonize databases for seabird colonies. Number of seabird species in these countries is 30, the number of colony sites may be 10,000, often more than one species at same site, and the total breeding pairs is estimated c. 50 million. A harmonized database format for seabird colonies was established, with 3 main tables, colony descriptions, colony survey data, study plot information. Linked are tables with references, observers, and photo documentation. The program can be downloaded free from: ftp://ftp.npolar.no/Out/Hallvard/. The manual is in the report appendix. The format harmonization is the first step in work on seabird colony databases. Harmonization enables common analyses over larger regions than hitherto possible, e.g. scientific assessments of species (colony details, geographic location, colony size, trend data, etc.) and conservation status overviews. Seabird colony data need to be incorporated into conservation policies. The databases are only as good as the data stored, many colonies remain unregistered, not censused, and fieldwork needs to be intensified. Each country maintains, updates, and corrects their databases, adding details lacking (habitat type, colony distribution, conservation status, land ownership, etc.)

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Template for Arctic seabird colony databases

The idea to establish a harmonized database format for seabird colonies in Faroes, Greenland, Iceland, Jan Mayen, and Svalbard is partly a product of, and has strong links to, the work of the Circumpolar Seabird Group (CBird), an expert group under the program for Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), one of the permanent working groups of the Arctic Council. The CBird group, which was established in 1993, has had the subject of harmonizing seabird colony databases at the circumpolar level on its agenda. That effort has, among others, resulted in a joint circumpolar colony database for the two murre species (Common Murre and Thick-billed Murre). This database has been used to publish a series of maps, posters, reports, and scientific papers (e.g. CAFF 2000, CAFF 2001 (p. 92), Petersen and Bakken 2004 (p. 4 & 10)).

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