Aarhus University Seal

Peter Funch

Eiders as long distance connectors in Arctic networks

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch

Seabirds such as the auk (Alle alle) and the northern common eider (Somateriae mollissima borealis) are and have been an important resource and food item for the indigenous people of the Arctic. Due to anthropogenic pressures such as hunting, populations of the auk, the common eider, and the king eider (S. spectabilis) have suffered major declines in Greenland and Canada. In 2001, the Greenland Home Rule Department of Hunting and Fishing issued a notice on the protection of birds in Greenland. Consequently, the annual catch numbers of common eiders in Greenland were reduced by more than two thirds. However, human activities are still threatening the survival of the common eider, e.g. by bycatching during spring when fishing for lumpsucker, and disturbances of feeding activities by fast moving motor boats.
Common eiders migrate between their breeding and wintering area, hereby connecting different ecological networks far apart, and often resulting in mixing of eider populations from different areas and even subspecies. Since common eiders breed and winter in large flocks and because of their large population numbers they have the potential to deplete an area for specific food items during a season. This forces the birds to shift to other food items, which also affect which parasites and pathogens they are being exposed to.
In this study we investigate the ecological role of the common eider in the Arctic by performing a network analysis of the common eider and its predators, prey, and parasites. In addition, we examine the role of human activities in the network and predict how these activities will impact the ecological network that the common eider is part of. Finally, we will analyse how the fluctuating population sizes of common eiders can affect the stability of the different ecological networks they are part of in the Arctic.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year24 Sept 2015
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2015
EventForging of cultures in the Circumpolar North - a comparative perspective - Moesgaard Museum, Aarhus, Denmark
Duration: 24 Sept 201525 Sept 2015


ConferenceForging of cultures in the Circumpolar North - a comparative perspective
LocationMoesgaard Museum

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