Published on Mon Oct 04 2021

Population ecology of seabirds in Mexican Islands at the California Current System

Mendez Sanchez, F., Bedolla Guzman, Y., Rojas Mayoral, E., Aguirre-Munoz, A., Koleff, P., Aguilar Vargas, A., Alvarez Santana, F., Arnaud, G., Aztorga Ornelas, A., Beltran Morales, L. F., Bello Yanez, M., Berlanga Garcia, H., Bravo Hernandez, E., Cardenas Tapia, A., Castellanos Vera, A., Corrales Sauceda, M., Duarte Canizales, A., Fabila Blanco, A., Felix Lizarraga, M., Fernandez Robledo, A., Hernandez Montoya, J., Hernandez Rios, A., Inigo-Elias, E., Mendez Rosas, A., Rojas Mayoral, B., Solis Carlos, F., Ortega Rubio, A.

The Baja California Pacific Islands (BCPI) is a seabird hotspot in the southern California Current System. The islands had a history of environmental degradation because of invasive alien species, human disturbance, and contaminants. Most of the invasive mammals have been eradicated and breeding colonies have been restored.

2
0
0
Abstract

The Baja California Pacific Islands (BCPI) is a seabird hotspot in the southern California Current System supporting 129 seabird breeding populations of 23 species and over one million birds annually. These islands had a history of environmental degradation because of invasive alien species, human disturbance, and contaminants that caused the extirpation of 27 seabird populations. Most of the invasive mammals have been eradicated and breeding colonies have been restored with social attraction techniques. We have systematic information for most of the breeding populations since 2008. To assess population trends, we analyzed data and present results for 19 seabird species on ten island groups. The maximum number of breeding pairs for each nesting season was used to estimate the population growth rate ({lambda}) for each species at every island colony. We performed a nonparametric bootstrapping to assess whether seabird breeding populations are increasing or decreasing. San Benito, Natividad, and San Jeronimo are the top three islands in terms of abundance of breeding pairs. The most widespread species is Cassins Auklet with 14 colonies. Twenty-three populations of 13 species are significantly increasing while eight populations of six species are decreasing. We did not find statistical significance for 30 populations, however, 20 have {lambda}>1 which suggest they are growing. Seven of the 18 species for which we estimated a regional population trend are significantly increasing, including three surface-nesting species: Brown Pelican, Elegant Tern and Laysan Albatross, and four burrow-nesting species: Ainleys and Ashy Storm-Petrels, and Craveris and Guadalupe Murrelet. Our results suggest that the BCPI support healthy and growing populations of seabirds that have shown to be resilient to extreme environmental conditions such as the "Blob", and that such resilience has been strengthen from conservation and restoration actions such as the eradication of invasive mammals and social attraction techniques.