Aves, p�le ornithologique de Natagora

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Aves, 42/1-2 | 2005 | 81-90

  The major changes in the French breeding marine avifauna during the 20th century
Yésou, P., Cadiou, B & Pons, J.-M.

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Knowledge on seabirds breeding in France comes from a number of published reports and, since the 1960s, from monitoring of the main colonies ; nation-wide censuses are organized every 10 years under the co-ordination of G.I.S.O.M., the French Seabird Group. The accumulated information supports the description of the major changes that occurred within the French marine avifauna during the 20th century. On one hand, this avifauna became more diversified because of the expansion of five species that either did not breed in France previously (Gannet Sula bassana, Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis, Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus) or did so only occasionally (Slender-billed Gull L. genei, Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis). Meanwhile, only one species disappeared as a regular breeder (Arctic Tern Sterna paradisea). On the other hand, the various species experienced a contrasted evolution. The Alcids have declined markedly since the 1950s. This decline and the simultaneous disappearance of the Arctic Tern as a regular breeder are mostly linked to an increase in sea temperature. Most of the other species have increased markedly, including the northern pelagic species, the Atlantic Shag Phalacrocorax a. aristotelis, the Cormorant P. carbo, the large gulls, the Sarmatic gulls, the Sandwich Tern and the Little Tern S. albifrons. Their increasing numbers, which are linked in part to conservation policy, are mostly explained by a huge, global, increase in food resource provided by human activities, and by the eutrophisation of wetlands and inshore seas.

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