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Changing winter diet of thick-billed murres (Uria lomvia) in Southwest Greenland, 1990s versus 2010s

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Southwest Greenland constitutes an internationally important wintering area for seabirds, including Thick-billed Murres (Uria lomvia (Linnaeus, 1758)), but their prey may be affected by the general warming of this sub-Arctic region. We compared murre diet collected in winter in the 1990s and in the 2010s around Nuuk, Greenland. Fish made up 36% of the diet (wet mass) and crustaceans 63% in the 1990s, changing to 22% and 78% in the 2010s, respectively. Capelin (Mallotus villosus (M€uller, 1776)) was the dominant fish species, and the smaller contribution in the 2010s coincided with declining densities of capelin around Nuuk. The crustaceans were dominated by two krill species (Meganyctiphanes norvegica (M. Sars, 1857) and Thysanoessa inermis (Krøyer, 1846)). However, M. norvegica was only important in the 2010s (51% wet mass), while T. inermis was dominating the 1990s with 62% wet mass and only 23% in the 2010s. The dominance of M. norvegica in the 2010s confirmed our expectations of a gradual “borealization” of this region due to the generally warming sub-Arctic. The smaller contribution of fish in the diet may also support the hypothesis of deteriorating winter conditions for murres. Apart from the diet, plastic was found in 15% of the birds and 53% had parasitic nematodes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Pages (from-to)1080-1088
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

    Research areas

  • Borealization, Capelin, Krill, Mallotus villosus, Seabird winter diet, Southwest Greenland, Thick-billed Murre, Uria lomvia

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