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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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The use of seabird colony databases

Seabird breeding colonies (seabird colonies, colonies) are important elements in nature. They contribute significantly to the local biodiversity, both directly and indirectly (by attracting predators, scavengers and by creating habitats for many other living organisms). They play a major ecological role as vectors of nutrients and carbon from the sea to terrestrial habitats. And in many regions they contribute to human existence byproviding resources to local communities and by giving opportunities to recreational activities such as tourism. However, the large concentrations of breeding birds (often significant fractions of the total populations) gathered in very localised sites, are particularly vulnerable to human induced influences, such as disturbance, habitat alteration, fisheries and oil pollution. Therefore careful management of human activities, which can impact the seabird colonies, is necessary to protect them. Readily available and up to date information on the colonies is in this process crucial, and a database with seabird breeding colony information will be a most efficient tool in this respect. This is or should bean integral part of the conservation policies of the Nordic countries.

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