Multispecies tracking reveals a major seabird hotspot in the North Atlantic

Tammy E. Davies* (Corresponding Author), Ana P.B. Carneiro, Marguerite Tarzia, Ewan D. Wakefield, Janos Hennicke, Morten Frederiksen, Erpur Snær Hansen, Bruna Campos, Carolina Hazin, Ben Lascelles, Tycho Anker-Nilssen, Hólmfríður Arnardóttir, Robert T. Barrett, Manuel J Biscoito, Loïc Bollache, Thierry Boulinier, Paulo Catry, Filipe R. Ceia, Olivier Chastel, Signe Christensen DalsgaardMarta Cruz-Flores, Jóhannis Danielsen, Francis Daunt, Euan Dunn, Carsten Egevang, Ana Isabel Fagundes, Annette L. Fayet, Jérôme Fort, Robert W. Furness, Olivier Gilg, Jacob Gonzalez-Solis, Jose Pedro Granadeiro, David Grémillet, Tim Guilford, Sveinn Are Hanssen, Michael P Harris, April Hedd, Nicholas Per Huffeldt, Mark J. Jessopp, Yann Kolbeinsson, Johannes Krietsch, Johannes Lang, Jannie Fries Linnebjerg, Svein-Håkon Lorentsen, Jeremy Madeiros, Ellen Magnusdottir, Mark L. Mallory, Laura McFarlane Tranquilla, Flemming R. Merkel, Teresa Militão, Borge Moe, William A. Montevecchi, Virginia Morera-Pujo, Anders Mosbech, Verónica Neves, Mark A. Newell, Bergur Olsen, Vitor H. Paiva, Hans-Ulrich Peter, Aevar Petersen, Richard A Phillips, Iván Ramírez, Jaime Albino Ramos, Raül Ramos, Robert A. Ronconi, Peter G. Ryan, Niels Martin Schmidt, Ingvar A. Sigurðsson, Benoît Sittler, Harald Steen, Iain J. Stenhouse, Hallvard Strøm, Geir H. R. Systad, Paul Thompson, Thorkell Lindberg Thórarinsson, Rob S.A. van Bemmelen, Sarah Wanless, Francis Zino, Maria P. Dias

*Corresponding author for this work

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The conservation of migratory marine species, including pelagic seabirds, is challenging because their movements span vast distances frequently beyond national jurisdictions. Here, we aim to identify important aggregations of seabirds in the North Atlantic to inform on-going regional conservation efforts. Using tracking, phenology, and population data, we mapped the abundance and diversity of 21 seabird species. This revealed a major hotspot associated with a discrete area of the sub-polar frontal zone, used annually by 2.9-5 million seabirds from ≥56 colonies in the Atlantic: the first time this magnitude of seabird concentrations have been documented in the high seas. The hotspot is temporally stable and amenable to site-based conservation and is under consideration as a marine protected area by the OSPAR Commission. Protection could help mitigate current and future threats facing species in the area. Overall, our approach provides an exemplar data-driven pathway for future conservation efforts on the high seas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12824
Number of pages14
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number5
Early online date2 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI) with a grant from the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports GOBI on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. The authors thank David Boyle, Vegard Brathen, Kendrew Colhoun, Jan Esefeld, Arnþór Garðarsson, H. Grant Gilchrist, Matthias Kopp, Yuri Krasnov, Mandy Shailer,Deryk Shaw, and the SEATRACK project who facilitated access to part of the data used in this study. Funding sources for the data used in this study are listed in Supporting Information – Additional Acknowledgments.

Data Availability Statement

The data are deposited on BirdLife International's Seabird Tracking Database

Additional supporting information may be found onlinein the Supporting Information section at the end of the article.


  • Area Beyond National Jurisdiction
  • Atlantic
  • Biologging
  • Conservation
  • High Seas
  • Marine Protected Area
  • Regional Seas Convention


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