Seabirds of the Benguela Ecosystem: Utilisation, long-term changes and challenges

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The Benguela Current is used by c. 82 seabird species, of which seven are endemic to it. Eggs and guano of formerly abundant seabirds were heavily harvested in the 19th and 20th centuries but decreases in seabird populations led to cessation of these industries at islands. Guano is still scraped from platforms. Seabird ecotourism has grown. There were large recent decreases in numbers of African Penguins Spheniscus demersus, Cape Gannets Morus capensis and Cape Phalacrocorax capensis and Bank P. neglectus Cormorants and redistributions of these other species away from the centre of the Benguela ecosystem towards its northern or eastern boundaries. In 2020, seabirds endemic to the Benguela ecosystem and albatrosses and petrels migrating into it had high proportions of globally Near Threatened or Threatened species. The primary threat to four Endangered endemic birds was scarcity of forage resources. A Vulnerable endemic damara tern was susceptible to habitat degradation and disturbance. The principal threat to visiting albatrosses and petrels was by-catch mortality. Identification and effective protection of Important Bird Area breeding and marine foraging and aggregation sites, and a suite of complementary measures, are needed to conserve the seabirds and ensure continuation of their economic and ecosystem benefits into the future. Keywords: Benguela seabirds, conservation status, distributional changes, forage availability, guano, habitat degradation, long-term change, utilisation.

Publication Title:

Birds - Challenges and opportunities for business, conservation and research

Mikkola H
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Book or Magazine Section
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Seabirds of the Benguela Ecosystem.pdf 990.95 KB

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