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Overview

Brief Summary

Fulmars can be seen flying over the North Sea the entire year. However you are only likely to see them at sea or in their breeding area off the northern coast of Northern England, Scotland or Helgoland. If they end up on a Dutch beach then they probably ran into a storm or are victims of an oil spill or marine litter. Fulmars have a strong beak with a sharp arched point, which allows them to tear off pieces of their prey. They eat just about anything found in the upper sea surface, including plastic.
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Fulmarus glacialis, or Nothern Fulmar, sea bird found primarily in subarctic regions of the north Atlantic and north Pacific oceans. This species's walking skills are limited, but it is a strong flyer. It feeds on fish, squid, plankton, jellyfish, and carrion, diving several feet deep into the water in order to retrieve its prey.

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Comprehensive Description

Longueur 45-50 cm, envergure 102-112 cm, poids moyen 610-1 000 g.

L’habitat fréquenté est océanique, l’espèce ne venant à terre que durant la saison de reproduction. Les sites de nid sont sur des falaises ou de hauts escarpements rocheux qui font face à la mer. Les corniches herbeuses ou terreuses sont préférées à la roche nue.

Le Fulmar se nourrit de crustacés, de céphalopodes, de poissons et de cadavres (notamment de mammifères marins). Il pêche normalement en surface mais peut atteindre 4 m en plongée.

L’espèce est très grégaire, autant sur les sites de nid (colonies lâches atteignant plusieurs milliers de couples dans le nord de son aire de distribution) que pendant les phases alimentaires, où elle se concentre en fonction des disponibilités en proies. Le Fulmar est monogame et les mêmes couples se reforment souvent d’une année sur l’autre, après une séparation en fin d’été. Le changement de partenaire ou de site de nid est rare après une reproduction réussie. Les jeunes se dispersent sur de grandes distances alors que les adultes quittent les eaux côtières pendant la mue d’août à octobre, mais reviennent visiter les colonies dès la fin de l’automne.

Le nid est une simple dépression sur le sol, parfois garnie de quelques cailloux. Les œufs sont déposés à partir de mai et la plupart éclosent en juillet, pour un envol fin août-début septembre.

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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Discontinuously circumpolar, breeding in the north Atlantic, north Pacific, and Arctic oceans. In North America breeds in colonies along the coasts of Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, and in Greenland (Godfrey 1966). Highly pelagic. Two large colonies in the Bering Sea include light-plumaged birds almost exclusively, whereas dark-plumaged birds dominate colonies in the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands.

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North America; Oceania; range extends from the Arctic to North Carolina
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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circum-arctic
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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Range Description

The Northern Fulmar is found breeding throughout the north Atlantic and north Pacific, ranging from Japan and the United Kingdom in the south, to the high Arctic in the north. Northern populations are migratory, travelling south as the sea freezes over. Southern populations are more dispersive, but do not usually reach zones of warm water. Young birds may make transoceanic crossing and general wander further than the less mobile adults (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
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Geographic Range

Northern fulmars are found throughout the northern Atlantic and Arctic oceans in the northern hemisphere. They occur as far south as Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the western Atlantic, the British Isles in the eastern Atlantic, Japan in the western Pacific and California in the eastern Pacific. There are 3 recognized subspecies: F. g. glacialis in the northernmost Atlantic, F. g. audubonii is found in the lower Arctic of the north Atlantic, and F. g. rodgersii is found in the north Pacific.

Northern fulmars range widely across the Atlantic, with individuals regularly traveling between North America and Britain, including immature individuals. In the western Atlantic, most northern fulmars in 11 large colonies above 65 degrees North latitude in eastern Canada. Additional breeding colonies are found in Greenland, Newfoundland, and Labrador. Concentrations of northern fulmars occur around Newfoundland in early spring and some evidence suggests a general northwards movement in populations between May and July. Fledglings disperse southwards rapidly from breeding colonies in September and October. In winter the majority of northern fulmars occur in offshore waters and are rarely observed.

Biogeographic Regions: arctic ocean (Native ); atlantic ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: holarctic

  • Huettmann, F., A. Diamond. 2000. Seabird migration in the Canadian northwest Atlantic Ocean: moulting locations and movement patterns of immature birds. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 78: 624-627.
  • del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, J. Sargatal. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume I. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
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Northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

There are 4 color morphs of northern fulmars: very dark, dark, light, and very light. Color morphs seem to differ in their distribution during the breeding season and in the timing of their molt. The 3 recognized subspecies are distinguished by differences in bill length and thickness and the proportion of the different color morphs, although the subspecies do have individuals of multiple color morphs generally. Individuals of different color morphs seem to mate indiscriminantly, although breeding colonies tend to be made up mainly of a single color morph. Immature individuals cannot be distinguished from adults. Most molting occurs in July. Molting seems to make some populations unable to fly, but not others. Males are slightly larger, on average 835 g whereas females average 700 g (range of masses is 450 to 1000 g). The sexes are similar in overall appearance. Northern fulmars are from 45 to 50 cm long with wingspans of 102 to 112 cm.

Northern fulmars have thick, yellow to gray bills with darker areas over the "tubes." Their legs and feet are flesh-colored to gray. Dark color morphs are more common in the southern portions of their range in the Atlantic and the northern portions of their range in the Pacific. Light color morphs are more common in the northern portion of the range in the Pacific. Atlantic populations tend to have robust bills and are almost exclusively light color morphs, whereas Pacific populations have bills that are more slender and exhibit the full range of color variation. Light morphs are uniformly pale, with head, neck, and ventral surfaces white and with their backs and wings being gray. Dark morphs are uniformly dark gray. Nearly all individuals of any color morph have a light to white patch on the dorsal surface of their wings formed by the exposed lighter portion of their primaries, this is only lacking in the darkest of individuals. Individuals can vary between the very dark ("double dark") and light ("double light") morphs described above. Variation is more of less continuous, but is divided into 4 morph categories for convenience.

Northern fulmars can be confused with pink-footed shearwaters (Puffinus creatopus) or flesh-footed shearwaters (Puffinus carneipes), but can be distinguished by their thick, rounded heads and stubby bills.

Range mass: 450 to 1000 g.

Average mass: 700 to 835 g.

Range length: 45 to 50 cm.

Range wingspan: 102 to 112 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry ; polymorphic

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Size

Length: 48 cm

Weight: 609 grams

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Length: 45-51 cm, Wingspan: 102-112 cm
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Pelagic. Nests in colonies primarily on sea cliffs, less frequently on low flat rocky islands.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The Northern Fulmar typically breeds on cliffs and rock faces, but also occasionally on flatter ground sometimes up to 1 km inland. It will also breed near human habitation, sometimes even on occupied houses along the seafront of towns. Its diet comprises of variable quantities of fish, squid and zooplankton (especially amphipods), and it will also feed on fish offal and carrion (e.g. whale blubber). Most of its food is obtained by surface seizing but it will also plunge (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Tracking at Bear Island (Norway) revealed breeders forage close to the colony, preferring the continental shelf. As chicks became older parents foraged further from the colony, eventually regularly embarking on long trips to the Norwegian coast (Weimerskirch et al. 2001).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
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Northern fulmars are found in ocean waters over continental shelves. They are found from the pack ice of Arctic waters to temperate waters. They seem to prefer shelf break habitats (the area where the continental shelf begins to descend towards the sea floor) or areas over the continental slope. They are rarely seen more than 100 km from shore. They breed on rocky cliffs and islands up to 1 km inland, but typically close to the water or coastal. They have occasionally been reported nesting on human structures, like houses in coastal areas.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; polar ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: coastal

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Depth range based on 375220 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 303801 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): -1.109 - 24.405
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.038 - 16.868
  Salinity (PPS): 19.618 - 36.385
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.763 - 9.084
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.109 - 1.252
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.565 - 16.169

Graphical representation

Temperature range (°C): -1.109 - 24.405

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.038 - 16.868

Salinity (PPS): 19.618 - 36.385

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.763 - 9.084

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.109 - 1.252

Silicate (umol/l): 0.565 - 16.169
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Sea cliffs and open ocean.
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Travels south in winter, but not far, remaining in cold waters.
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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Feeds on fishes, mollusks, crustaceans. Surface feeder; floats or swims on surface of water while eating; may dive below surface. Follows fishing ships. Drinks seawater.

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Food Habits

Northern fulmars eat fish, squid, and large zooplankton such as amphipods (Thysanoessa, Hyperia, Gammarus, and Themisto species). They are opportunistic feeders and also take discarded fish and carrion, such as whale, walrus, and seal blubber. They eat a wide variety of prey, but seem to prefer fish with high fat content. They drink seawater. They capture prey mainly at the surface, but will occasionally dive as well. Northern fulmars often accompany fishing fleets, forming large aggregations to take advantage of fish waste. They are one of the few bird species with a well-developed sense of smell and are thought to use olfaction to detect prey. They tend to forage at marine upwellings that cause temporary concentrations of large zooplankton, including areas near ice sheets or upwelling associated with feeding gray whales (Eschrictius robustus) or trawling operations. Northern fulmars travel widely in search of food. During the breeding season individual leave the colony on foraging trips of 4 to 5 days that may take them up to 460 km from the colony, although most foraging is within 100 km of the colony.

Animal Foods: fish; carrion ; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans; cnidarians; zooplankton

Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore , Eats non-insect arthropods, Molluscivore , Scavenger )

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Crustaceans and fish, plus squid, marine worms, and carrion.
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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Northern fulmars are important predators and scavengers in arctic and temperate pelagic waters. They occur in large breeding colonies with other cliff-nesting seabirds, including murres (Uria), kittiwakes (Rissa), and cormorants (Phalacrocorax). They may use areas of breeding islands with more vegetation and soil accumulation than these other species. They feed on large zooplankton brought to the surface by feeding gray whales (Eschrictius robustus) and are often found in close association with black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) in arctic waters.

Northern fulmars are susceptible to various diseases, including viral ornithosis, which can be transmitted to humans, and shellfish paralysis. Ectoparasites reported are chewing lice (Procellariphaga brevifimbiata, Saemundssonia occidentalis, and Perineus nigrolimbatus), endoparasites reported are nematodes (Stegophorus stellaepolaris).

Mutualist Species:

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

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Predation

Northern fulmars are preyed on by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) at breeding colonies. Other introduced predators include ground squirrels (Spermophilus) and rats (Rattus norvegicus). Northern fulmars are not susceptible to these terrestrial predators, except at breeding colonies. They will spit a foul smelling oil at predators when threatened.

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Fulmarus glacialis (kittiwake, guillemots, fulmar petrel, little auk, puffin) is prey of:
Alopex lagopus

Based on studies in:
Norway: Spitsbergen (Coastal)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • V. S. Summerhayes and C. S. Elton, Contributions to the ecology of Spitsbergen and Bear Island, J. Ecol. 11:214-286, from p. 232 (1923).
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Known prey organisms

Fulmarus glacialis (kittiwake, guillemots, fulmar petrel, little auk, puffin) preys on:
Animalia

Based on studies in:
Norway: Spitsbergen (Coastal)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • V. S. Summerhayes and C. S. Elton, Contributions to the ecology of Spitsbergen and Bear Island, J. Ecol. 11:214-286, from p. 232 (1923).
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Population Biology

Global Abundance

>1,000,000 individuals

Comments: A 1970s population estimate for the eastern Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands was about 490,000 pairs; in 1990, 55,000 pairs in 10 colonies were counted along the western Bering Sea coast (Vyatkin 1993).

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General Ecology

Hunted for flesh and feathers. Nests raided by arctic weasels, glaucous and herring gulls. See Hatch (1987) for demographic data from Alaska.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Northern fulmars are one of the few species of birds with a well-developed sense of smell. They may use olfaction to detect and find prey and can be attracted to areas by fish oil smells. Similar to other petrels and shearwaters, they emit a strong, musky odor. Individuals emit this odor when handled and colonies and flocks are easily detected by their smell. Birds sometimes engage in allopreening upon returning to breeding colonies.

Northern fulmar vocalizations have been described as "cackling" or "braying" at various speeds. These vocalizations are used during courtship, at approaches to nesting colonies, and in aggression against intruders. They make other calls as well, described as grunts, mewing, and spitting, which warns a threat that these birds are about to spit stomach oil at them, a defensive mechanism. Hatchlings use a food-begging call that stimulates parents to regurgitate.

They also use a variety of visual displays in aggressive encounters, including raising their wings, rushing at other birds, and pushing their breasts against the other bird. They also use their spitting call and oil spitting in aggressive encounters.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Northern fulmars have exceptionally long lifespans. Average adult life expectancy is estimated at 31.8 years. Birds have been reported breeding at over 50 years old. Annual survival rates are approximately 0.988 for adults. Most mortality is during the egg and early hatchling phase.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
50 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
31.8 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 51 years (wild) Observations: Ageing has not been detected in these animals (Roger Gosden 1996), though it is possible that mortality increases with age. In one study in the wild, the oldest bird was at least 51 years-old (Paul Thompson, pers. comm.).
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Reproduction

Egg laying occurs May-July (early June in western Gulf of Alaska). Clutch size: 1. One brood per year. Incubation by both parents, in turn, lasts 46-51 days. Young leave nest at 49-58 days. First breeds at 7-9 years. Nesting colony may include up to 200,000 birds.

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Northern fulmars are monogamous and rejoin their mates each year at the same nest site for breeding. If an individual's mate dies, they will mate with a young, inexperienced mate following year, but at the same nest site. Males and females associate at the nesting colony for a few weeks before they lay an egg. They copulate frequently, then both depart to forage during the pre-laying phase.

Mating System: monogamous

During the pre-laying period, females store sperm in their reproductive tract and begin the process of yolk formation, which takes about 23 days. After yolk formation, females ovulate, the egg is fertilized, and the female returns to the colony and lays her egg within a few hours of arrival. Egg-laying occurs about 3 weeks after breeding.

Northern fulmars begin to breed in April and lay their eggs in late May to early June in large colonies on ledges and among rocks. They may also nest in areas with more soil and vegetation than other seabirds and will even nest on buildings and walls. Nests are fairly simple scrapes, sometimes lined with bits of vegetation. From 80 to 99% of nests are re-used by at least 1 member of the original pair each year. Females lay a single, white egg and incubation lasts for 47 to 53 days. The process of hatching takes from 4 to 5 days. Young fledge at 49 to 58 days in early September, with the last young northern fulmars leaving their natal sites by early October. Sexual maturity is not reached until 5 to 20 years old (average 8 years in males, 12 years in females).

Breeding interval: Northern fulmars breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs in the late spring and early summer, beginning in May.

Range eggs per season: 1 to 1.

Range time to hatching: 47 to 53 days.

Range fledging age: 49 to 58 days.

Average fledging age: 53 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 5 to 20 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 12 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 5 to 20 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 8 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sperm-storing

Average eggs per season: 1.

Both parents incubate the eggs, staying on the nest for from 1 to 11 (average 4.6) days until relieved by the other parent. Males often take particularly long incubation shifts at the beginning of incubation, presumably to allow the female to recover from laying the egg. Young hatch with a light covering of down and are closely tended by parents for 10 to 16 days after hatching, after which parents primarily visit the nest to feed their young. They are able to thermoregulate at 3 to 6 days old. Parents feed their young by regurgitation in response to the chick's food begging call. Young fledge at 49 to 58 (average 53) days old, about 4 to 5 days after the parents have stopped feeding them. Young fledge at 115 to 119% of adult body mass.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

  • del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, J. Sargatal. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume I. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
  • Hatch, S., D. Nettleship. 1998. Northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis). The Birds of North America Online, 361: 1-20. Accessed July 13, 2009 at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.umich.edu/bna/species/361.
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First breeds between 6 and 12 years old. Nests are built on cliff ledges among colonies. 1 egg is incubated by both partners for 49-53 days. Young hatchling is fed by both parents. First capable of flight at 41-57 days old.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Fulmarus glacialis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 143
Specimens with Barcodes: 157
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Fulmarus glacialis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 9 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

TTCTCCAACCACAAAGACATTGGCACCCTATATCTAATTTTCGGCGCATGAGCTGGCATAGTCGGAACTGCCCTCAGCCTACTTATTCGTGCAGAACTTGGTCAGCCAGGAACCCTCTTAGGAGATGACCAAATCTATAATGTAATCGTTACTGCCCATGCCTTCGTAATAATTTTCTTCATAGTGATACCAGTCATAATTGGAGGATTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCTCTCATAATCGGTGCGCCCGACATGGCATTCCCACGTATAAATAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTGCCCCCATCCTTCCTTCTCCTACTAGCCTCATCCACAGTAGAAGCAGGAGCAGGAACAGGATGAACTGTCTACCCACCCCTAGCCGGCAATCTAGCCCATGCCGGAGCCTCAGTCGACCTAGCTATCTTCTCCCTCCACCTAGCTGGTGTATCCTCTATCCTAGGGGCTATCAACTTCATCACAACAGCCATCAACATAAAACCCCCAGCTCTATCACAATACCAAACCCCTTTATTCGTATGATCCGTCCTTATCACTGCCATCCTACTCTTACTTTCACTTCCAGTTTTGGCTGCAGGAATCACCATATTACTAACAGACCGAAACCTAAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCAGCCGGCGGAGGAGACCCAGTCTTATACCAACATCTCTTCTGATTCTTCGGCCACCCAGAAGTCTACATTCTGATCCTACCGTGATTTGGAATTATCTCC
-- end --

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B,N5N : N5B: Secure - Breeding, N5N: Secure - Nonbreeding

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4N,N5B : N4N: Apparently Secure - Nonbreeding, N5B: Secure - Breeding

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Northern fulmars have a large range and large population sizes, they are considered "least concern" by the IUCN. Northern fulmar populations have increased dramatically in the northern Atlantic and expanded their range in the last 2 centuries, possibly as a result of greater food availability from fish discards from commercial fishing operations. They were once heavily exploited at colonies for food, but are not generally taken for food currently. They may be threatened by coastal pollution near breeding colonies and likely suffer mortality associated with entanglement in fishing gear.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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No official conservation status. Populations seem to be increasing.
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Population

Population
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number c.2,800,000-4,400,000 breeding pairs, equating to c.8,400,000-13,200,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004). Europe forms 25-49% of the global range, so an initial estimate of the global population size is c.15,000,000-50,000,000 individuals. However, del Hoyo et al (1992) estimated the global population to number 8,000,000-32,000,000 individuals and Brooke (2004) estimated the global breeding population to number around 7,000,000 breeding pairs, equating to 21,000,000 individuals. Hence a revised global estimate is 15,000,000-30,000,000. National population estimates include: c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in China; < c.50 individuals on migration and < c.50 wintering individuals in Korea and c.100,000-1 million breeding pairs and >c.10,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Population Trend
Increasing
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no adverse effects of northern fulmars on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Northern fulmars have been historically collected for food at nesting colonies.

Positive Impacts: food

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Wikipedia

Northern fulmar

The northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) fulmar,[2] or Arctic fulmar[4] is a highly abundant sea bird found primarily in subarctic regions of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. Fulmars come in one of two color morphs: a light one which is almost entirely white, and a dark one which is uniformly gray. Though similar in appearance to gulls, fulmars are in fact members of the Procellariidae family, which include petrels and shearwaters. It and the southern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialodes) together comprise the only extant species in the genus Fulmarus.


The northern fulmar and its sister, the southern fulmar, are the extant members of the genus Fulmarus. The fulmars are in turn a member of the order Procellariiformes, and they all share certain identifying features. First, they have nasal passages that attach to the upper bill called naricorns; however, nostrils on albatrosses are on the sides of the bill, as opposed to the rest of the order, including fulmars, which have nostrils on top of the upper bill. The bills of Procellariiformes are also unique in that they are split into between seven and nine horny plates. One of these plates makes up the hooked portion of the upper bill, called the maxillary unguis. They produce a stomach oil made up of wax esters and triglycerides that is stored in the proventriculus. This can be sprayed out of their mouths as a defense against predators and as an energy rich food source for chicks and for the adults during their long flights.[5] It will mat the plumage of avian predators, and can lead to their death.[6] Finally, they also have a salt gland that is situated above the nasal passage that helps desalinate their bodies, due to the high amount of ocean water that they imbibe. It excretes a high saline solution from their nose.[6]

The northern fulmar was first described as Fulmarus glacialis by Carl Linnaeus, in 1761, based on a specimen from within the Arctic Circle, on Spitsbergen.[4]

Subspecies[edit]

The northern fulmar consists of three sub-species:[7]

Etymology[edit]

Fulmarus glacialis can be broken down to the Old Norse word full meaning "foul" and mar meaning "gull". "Foul-gull" is in reference to its stomach oil and also its superficial similarity to seagulls. Finally, glacialis is Latin for "glacial" because of its extreme northern range.[8]

Description[edit]

The northern fulmar has a wingspan of 102–112 cm (40–44 in)[4] and is 46 cm (18 in) in length.[9][10][11] Body mass can range from 450 to 1,000 g (16 to 35 oz).[12] These species are gray and white with a pale yellow, thick, bill and bluish legs;[13] however there is both a light morph and dark morph. In the Pacific Ocean there is an intermediate morph as well. All morphs have certain similarities, such as only the dark morph has more than dark edges on the underneath, and they all have pale inner primaries on the top of the wings. The Pacific morph has a darker tail than the Atlantic morph.[4][9][10][13][14][15][16]

Like other petrels, their walking ability is limited, but they are strong fliers, with a stiff wing action quite unlike the gulls. They look bull-necked compared to gulls, and have short stubby bills.[13] They are long-lived, with a lifespan of 31 years not uncommon.[17]

Population and trends[18]
LocationBreeding populationWinter populationBreeding trend
Faroe Islands600,000 pairs500,000–3,000,000 individualsstable
Greenland120,000–200,000 pairs10,000–100,000 individualsstable
France1,300–1,350 pairs100–500 individualsincreasing
Germany102 pairsincreasing
Iceland1,000,000–2,000,000 pairs1,000,000—5,000,000 individualsdecreasing
Ireland33,000 pairsincreasing
Denmark2 pair200–300 individualsincreasing
Norway7,000–8,000 pairsincreasing
Svalbard500,000–1,000,000 pairsincreasing
Russia (Europe)1,000–2,500 pairs
United Kingdom506,000 pairs
Canada, Russia (Asia), & US2,600,000–4,200,000 pairs
Total (adult individuals)15,000,000–30,000,000increasing

Behavior[edit]

Feeding[edit]

This fulmar will feed on shrimp, fish, squid, plankton, jellyfish, and carrion, as well as refuse.[4][6][14][15] When eating fish, they will dive up to several feet deep to retrieve their prey.[11]

Breeding[edit]

Nesting in Shetland, Scotland
Nests in County Mayo, Ireland
A fulmar flying in Kongsfjord, Ny Alesund, Svalbard

The northern fulmar starts breeding at between six and twelve years old. It is monogamous, and forms long term pair bonds. It returns to the same nest site year after year.[6] The breeding season starts in May;[4] however, the female has glands that store sperm to allow weeks to pass between copulation and the laying of the egg.[6] Their nest is a scrape on a grassy ledge or a saucer of vegetation on the ground, lined with softer material. The birds nest in large colonies[4][6][11][14][15] Recently, they have started nesting on rooftops and buildings.[4] Both sexes are involved in the nest building process.[6] A single white egg, 61 mm (2.40 in) in size,[6] is incubated for a period of 50 to 54 days, by both sexes. The altricial chick is brooded for 2 weeks and fully fledges after 70 to 75 days. Again, both sexes are involved.[4][6] During this period, the parents are nocturnal, and will not even be active on well-lit nights.[6]

Social behavior[edit]

The mating ritual of this fulmar consists of the female resting on a ledge and the male landing with his bill open and his head back. He commences to wave his head side to side and up and down while calling.[6]

They make grunting and chuckling sounds while eating and guttural calls during the breeding season.[14][15]

Conservation[edit]

The northern fulmar is estimated to have between 15,000,000 and 30,000,000 mature individuals, that occupy an occurrence range of 28,400,000 km2 (11,000,000 sq mi) and their North American population is on the rise, hence it is listed with the IUCN as Least Concern.[18] The range of these species increased greatly last century due to the availability of fish offal from commercial fleets, but may contract because of less food from this source and climatic change.[4] The population increase has been especially notable in the British Isles.[14]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Fulmaris glacialis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b BirdLife International (2009b)
  3. ^ Brands, S. (2008)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Maynard, B. J. (2003)
  5. ^ Double, M. C. (2003)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ehrlich, P. R. (1988)
  7. ^ Clements, James (2007)
  8. ^ Gotch, A. T. (1995)
  9. ^ a b Sibley, David A. (2000)
  10. ^ a b Floyd, Ted (2008)
  11. ^ a b c Harrison, C. & Greensmith, A. (1993)
  12. ^ [1] (2011).
  13. ^ a b c Peterson, Roger, T. (1961)
  14. ^ a b c d e Bull, John & Farrand Jr. John (1993)
  15. ^ a b c d Udvarty, M. D. F. & Farrand, J. (1994)
  16. ^ Dunn, J. L. & Alderfer, J. (2006)
  17. ^ BirdLife International (2004)
  18. ^ a b BirdLife International (2009a)

References[edit]

  • Aberdeen (2005). Fowlsheugh Ecology. Lumina Press. 
  • BirdLife International (2004). "Fulmarus glacialis Northern Fulmar" (PDF). Archived from the original on January 3, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2009. 
  • BirdLife International (2009a). "Northern Fulmar". Data Zone. Retrieved July 17, 2009. 
  • BirdLife International (2009b). The BirdLife checklist of the birds of the world, with conservation status and taxonomic sources. 
  • Brands, Sheila (August 14, 2008). "Systema Naturae 2000 / Classification - Fulmarus glacialis". Project: The Taxonomicon. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  • Bull, John; Farrand Jr., John (June 1993) [1977]. "Open Ocean". In Opper, Jane. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds. The Audubon Society Field Guide Series. Birds (Eastern Region) (1st ed.). New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 314. ISBN 0-394-41405-5. 
  • Clements, James (2007). The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World (6 ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-4501-9. 
  • Del Hoyo, Joseph (ed.). Handbook of the Birds of the World 1. ISBN 84-87334-10-5. 
  • Dunn, Jon L.; Alderfer, Jonathan (2006). "Shearwaters, Petrels (Family Procellariidae)". In Levitt, Barbara. National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (fifth ed.). Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-7922-5314-3. 
  • Ehrlich, Paul R.; Dobkin, David, S.; Wheye, Darryl (1988). The Birders Handbook (First ed.). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. pp. 14, 29–31. ISBN 0-671-65989-8. 
  • Floyd, Ted (2008). "Tubenoses: Albatrosses, Shearwaters & Petrels, and Storm-petrels". In Hess, Paul; Scott, George. Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America (First ed.). New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-06-112040-4. 
  • Gotch, A. F. (1995) [1979]. "Albatrosses, Fulmars, Shearwaters, and Petrels". Latin Names Explained A Guide to the Scientific Classifications of Reptiles, Birds & Mammals. New York, NY: Facts on File. pp. 191–192. ISBN 0-8160-3377-3. 
  • Harrison, P. (1983). Seabirds: an Identification Guide. Beckenham, U.K.: Croom Helm. ISBN 0-7470-1410-8. 
  • Harrison, C.; Greensmith, A. (1993). "Non-passerines". In Bunting, E. Birds of the World. New York, NY: Dorling Kindersley. p. 50. ISBN 1-56458-295-7. 
  • Maynard, B. J. (2003). "Shearwaters, petrels, and fulmars (Procellariidae)". In Hutchins, Michael; Jackson, Jerome A.; Bock, Walter J. et al. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 8 Birds I Tinamous and Ratites to Hoatzins. Joseph E. Trumpey, Chief Scientific Illustrator (2 ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. pp. 123–133. ISBN 0-7876-5784-0. 
  • Peterson, Roger T. (1961) [1941]. "Shearwaters, Fulmars, Large Petrels: Procellariidae". A Field Guide to Western Birds. Peterson Field Guide 2 (Second ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-13692-9 Check |isbn= value (help). 
  • Sibley, David A. (2000). "Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters Families: Diomedeidae, Procellariidae". The Sibley Guide to Birds (First ed.). New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 32. ISBN 0-679-45122-6. 
  • Udvarty, Miklos, D. F.; Farrand Jr., John (1994) [1977]. Locke, Edie, ed. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds. National Audubon Field Guide Series. Birds (Western Region) (First ed.). New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 358–359. ISBN 0-679-42851-8. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Apparently constitutes a superspecies with F. GLACIALOIDES (AOU 1998).

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