Breeding seabird populations in Brazilian oceanic islands: historical review, update and a call for census standardization
In recent decades, several seabird populations have declined globally due to anthropogenic activities. In Brazil, 14 seabird species breed at four oceanic islands and one atoll: the Abrolhos, Fernando de Noronha, and São Pedro and São Paulo (SPSPA) archipelagos; the Trindade/Martin Vaz Islands; and the Atol das Rocas. Seven species are listed as nationally threatened by extinction. This study aimed to present new information on breeding seabird populations in Brazilian oceanic islands, compile all available data previously published and, when possible, to provide updated information on population estimates from censuses carried out sporadically at different islands between 2006 and 2013. Based on new data and the thorough review provided here, of the 35 seabird breeding populations analysed, 14% were increasing (as Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus, Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens and Brown Noddy Anous stolidus in Abrolhos), 11% were decreasing (as Brown Booby Sula leucogaster in Atol das Rocas and Great Frigatebird Fregata minor in Trindade Island), 23% were stable (as White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus in Fernando de Noronha and Brown Noddy and Black Noddy Anous minutus in São Pedro and São Paulo Archipelago), and the remaining 49% were unknown or not possible to evaluate. The Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) is locally extinct in Trindade Island, however there are colonies of only a few individuals of other species, such as the Audubon's Shearwater Puffinus lherminieri and Red- billed Tropicbird in Noronha, Black Noddy in Martin Vaz, and Great (Fregata ariel trinitatis) and Lesser (F. m. nicolli) Frigatebirds in Trindade, that may become extinct soon. Censuses at distinct periods of the breeding cycles and protocols were highly variable, making temporal comparisons difficult. These results indicate an urgent need for long-term studies to improve the scenario to assess seabird population trends based on comparable methodologies, in order to determine trends in the future.
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