The ecology of Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle grylle chicks in the Baltic Sea region : insights into their diet, survival, nest predation and moment of fledging

Hof, Anouschka R.; Crombag, Joep A.H.M.; Allen, Andrew M.


Capsule: The diet of Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle grylle chicks in the Baltic Sea region was dominated by Viviparous Eelpout Zoarces viviparus. Risk of nest predation by avian and mammalian predators was perceived to be low, and hatching and fledging success were high. Aims: To gain insight into the ecology of nestling Black Guillemots in the Baltic Sea region to fill knowledge gaps and benefit its conservation. Methods: Two island groups in the Baltic Sea were visited several times during the breeding season of 2014 and 2015 to monitor nestling survival and fledging. In addition, camera traps were used in 2014 to monitor prey brought to chicks by adults and record possible nest predation events. Results: Hatching success was 0.89 and 0.73 in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and fledging success was very high (0.95 and 0.97). No incidences of avian or mammalian predation were observed. Chicks fledged at night between 32 and 38 days after hatching. Viviparous Eelpout made up 95% of the prey items brought to the chicks by adults. Conclusions: The hatching rate and fledging rate of the Black Guillemot was high in our study region. Juveniles seemed highly dependent on the availability of eelpout. Changes in the abundance of this species may therefore have negative effects on chick survival.