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Seabird Monitoring Programme Report 1986–2018

Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 1986–2018 Report

Here we present the latest analysed trends in population numbers and breeding success, productivity, survival and diet of breeding seabirds, from the Seabird Monitoring Programme (SMP), along with interpretive text on the likely causes of change based on the most recent research.

It replaces and builds upon the now discontinued annual publication Seabird numbers and breeding success in Britain and Ireland

Trend information is presented at the UK level and separately for Scotland, Wales, England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, all-Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. Interpretation of trends and reasons for change are given largely at the UK level, unless there is country-specific evidence.

A download of data points presented in the graphs of abundance and productivity under species accounts is available on request.

Table of results

The table below contains links to the species accounts and provides at-a-glance UK population trends (as percentage of change in breeding numbers) from complete censuses undertaken in 1969-70 (Operation Seafarer), 1985-88 (Seabird Colony Register, hereafter SCR), and 1998–2002 (Seabird 2000). Change from 1998–2002 to 2018 (i.e. over the period since the last national census) is estimated from trends derived from the SMP sample of colonies; this analysis is only available for species with sufficient data to accurately estimate trends. Any marked differences in the trend calculations between the last census and 2018 is due to a recent increase in sample data as part of the current seabird census Seabirds Count (2015–2020).

View the methods of analysis of breeding abundance and productivity data presented in the species accounts.

The report should be cited as: JNCC. 2020. Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 1986–2018 Report (https://jncc.gov.uk/our-work/smp-report-1986-2018). Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough. Updated 10 March 2020.

 

Species

Population change (%)

1969-70 to 1985-88

Population change (%)

1985-88 to 1998–2002

Population change (%)

2000–2018

northern fulmar

+77

-3

-38

Manx shearwater

n/a

n/a

n/a

European storm-petrel

n/a

n/a

n/a

Leach's storm-petrel

n/a

n/a

n/a

northern gannet

+39

+39*

+41**

great cormorant

+9

+10

-7

European shag

+21

-27

-24

Arctic skua

+226

-37

-70

great skua

+148

+26

n/a

black-legged kittiwake

+24

-25

-50

black-headed gull

+5

0

+32

Mediterranean gull

n/a

+10,900

+2,059

common gull

+25

+36

n/a

lesser black-backed gull

+29

+40

n/a

herring gull

-48

-13

n/a

great black-backed gull

-7

-4

n/a

little tern

+58

-23

-25

Sandwich tern

+33

-15

+12

common tern

+9

-9

+15

roseate tern

-66

-83

+106

Arctic tern

+50

-31

-13

guillemot

+77

+31

+1

razorbill

+16

+21

+33

black guillemot

n/a

+3**

n/a

Atlantic puffin

+15

+19

n/a

*change between censuses in 1984-85 and 2003-04.
**change between censuses in 2003-04 and 2013–2015
n/a: insufficient sample size or extremely wide confidence limits, so figure not provided.

Information about the population status of the common birds of the wider UK countryside (updated to 2019) can be accessed via the BTO report BirdTrends: trends in numbers and demography for UK breeding birds.

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Previous reports

The report has been published online since 2009. Details of the previous reports are available through The National Archives website. 

Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 1986–2015 Report

Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 1986–2014 Report

Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 1986–2013 Report

Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 1986–2012 Report

Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 2012 Report (provides results up to the year 2011)

Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 2011 Report (provides results up to the year 2010)

Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 2010 Report (provides results up to the year 2009)

Prior to 2009, these trends were published in 'Seabird numbers and breeding success in Britain and Ireland'. Copies of these reports are available on JNCC's Resource Hub.

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Published: .

Pages in Seabird Monitoring Programme Report 1986–2018

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