Faculté des sciences

Status of the endangered ivory gull, Pagophila eburnea, in Greenland

Gilg, Olivier ; Boertmann, David ; Merkel, Flemming ; Aebischer, Adrian ; Sabard, Brigitte

In: Polar Biology, 2009, vol. 32, no. 9, p. 1275-1286

The ivory gull, a rare high-Arctic species whose main habitat throughout the year is sea ice, is currently listed in Greenland as ‘Vulnerable’, and as ‘Endangered’ in Canada, where the population declined by 80% in 20 years. Despite this great concern, the status of the species in Greenland has been largely unknown as it breeds in remote areas and in colonies for which population data has... Plus

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    Summary
    The ivory gull, a rare high-Arctic species whose main habitat throughout the year is sea ice, is currently listed in Greenland as ‘Vulnerable’, and as ‘Endangered’ in Canada, where the population declined by 80% in 20 years. Despite this great concern, the status of the species in Greenland has been largely unknown as it breeds in remote areas and in colonies for which population data has rarely, if at all, been collected. Combining bibliographical research, land surveys, aerial surveys and satellite tracking, we were able to identify 35 breeding sites, including 20 new ones, in North and East Greenland. Most colonies are found in North Greenland and the largest are located on islands and lowlands. The current best estimate for the size of the Greenland population is approx. 1,800 breeding birds, but the real figure is probably >4,000 adult birds (i.e. >2,000 pairs) since all colonies have not yet been discovered and since only 50% or less of the breeding birds are usually present in the colonies at the time the censuses take place. Although this estimate is four to eight times higher than that previously arrived at, the species seems to be declining in the south of its Greenland breeding range, while in North Greenland the trends are unclear and unpredictable, calling for increased monitoring efforts.