Ecosystem overviews

Faroes Ecoregion: Seabirds

​According to the last estimation (in 2005) 5 million seabirds, consisting of 21 species, are found within the ecoregion. Continuous monitoring schemes exist for six species (common guillemot, black-legged kittiwake, northern fulmar, Atlantic puffin [Fratercula arctica], Northern gannet, Arctic tern [Sterna paradisaea]). Knowledge on the remaining 15 species is limited.

Multi-annual variability in the abundances of guillemots, kittiwakes, and fulmars in the time‑series (see figure 10) is associated with Subpolar Gyre dynamics, net primary production, and juvenile fish abundance on the Faroes Shelf. The exact mechanisms are unknown.

The number of seabirds in the Faroes has declined substantially since the 1950s. For example, the number of common guillemots has declined by ca. 66% since the 1970s (the last nation-wide census was in the period 2010–2014), including an observed decline in the main monitoring site Høvdin (Skúvoy; see figure 10). Prior to 2011, numbers of both northern fulmar and black‑legged kittiwake declined at Høvdin; after 2011, they both increased in numbers up to 2014 and 2017 respectively.

ICES considers that black-legged kittiwake, razorbill (Alca torda), and puffins are among the seabird species of conservation concern with potential risk of bycatch on the region.​

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Figure 10: Selected time‑series from the Faroes ecoregion. a: Atlantic Water annual averaged de-seasoned temperature and salinity at the Faroe Bank Channel just southwest of the Faroe Islands. b: winter concentrations of nutrients at standard station N04 (see Figure 9b). c: Subpolar Gyre Index. d: interannual variability of chlorophyll on the central Faroe Shelf demonstrated in the so-called primary production index, which is based on nitrate drawdown on the central Faroe Shelf. e: zooplankton biomass in the upper 50 m of the water column, inside the Faroe Shelf front and in the surrounding area outside the front, respectively, in late June 1991–2022. f: 0-group length index based on cod, haddock, Norway pout (Trisopterus esmarkii), and sandeel. g: number of common guillemot, black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), and northern fulmar at monitoring site Høvdin on Skúvoy, the Faroe Islands (note: the number of common guillemot has decreased from more than 9 000 in the early 1970s). Grey bars highlight peaks in abundance, mean length, and 0-group length index for cod, haddock, Norway pout, and sandeel, i.e. the dominating fish stocks.

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Faroes Ecoregion: Seabirds

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