Aarhus University Seal

Seabird Breeding Colonies in East and North Greenland: A Baseline

New publication by David Martin Boertmann, Flemming Ravn Merkel, Olivier Gilg


This paper presents the results of a number of aircraft- and boat-based surveys for seabird breeding colonies in East and North Greenland carried out in the period 2003 to 2018 and gives the first comprehensive overview of the distribution and size of the seabird breeding colonies in this remote and mainly uninhabited region. Seventeen seabird species breed in approximately 800 sites distributed very unevenly along the coasts, with high concentrations at the polynyas and long stretches with very few breeding seabirds. Climate changes are in full progress in East and North Greenland, especially affecting the sea ice regime, and seabirds are expected to respond to these changes in different ways. For example, since the 1980s, Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima) have extended their breeding range more than two latitudinal degrees towards the north, now reaching the northernmost land on Earth. Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus) and Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) have immigrated, and Sabine’s Gulls (Xema sabini) have increased and extended their range. Besides presenting survey results, this report may also serve as a baseline for future studies of the abundance of breeding seabirds in East and North Greenland.