Linking Oceanography and Multi-specific, spatially-Variable Interactions of seabirds and their prey in the Arctic


Arctic marine animals are under increasing threat from climate change. Its impacts are not merely physical, such as seas becoming too warm or sea ice melting, but also biological as climate can alter how different species interact with one another.

In particular, the ranges of temperate species can expand northward and bring them into increasing contact with Arctic species. The newcomers may start to prey on the Arctic species, or outcompete them for food or breeding sites, causing more rapid declines than would occur if climate change acted alone. Project LOMVIA aims to investigate these interactions for a pair of closely related seabird species in Iceland.

This project is co-funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and by UKRI NERC.

Dr Norman Ratcliffe, from the British Antarctic Survey and Lead Investigator of the LOMVIA project says:

“Project LOMVIA aims to examine the competitive interactions between two closely related species of seabird: Brünnich’s guillemot, a truly Arctic species, and common guillemot, a temperate species that can be seen on cliffs all around Great Britain. We will study their foraging ecology around the coast of Iceland which, due to complex current flows, represents an Arctic in miniature as it is affected by icy Artic water from Greenland, warm temperature water from the Atlantic and subarctic water from Spitzbergen. Our study will involve using miniature tracking devices to study where birds forage and molecular fingerprinting to find out what they eat there. We will combine these data with long-term colony counts from our Icelandic partners to find out how trends and distribution relate to habitat availability. This is an exciting opportunity to discover how climate change and competition interact to affect the distribution and abundance of these two sibling species.”

Lead Investigators

  • Dr Norman Ratcliffe

    Co-lead investigator, British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

    Norman Ratcliffe is a seabird ecologist working at British Antarctic Survey. His main research interests are in the foraging ecology and movements of seabirds in relation to environmental and biotic variables, and their repercussions upon individual fitness and population processes. He is the co-lead investigator of Project LOMVIA, and his roles include management of the project’s science, budget and staff, coordination of partner organisations, leading fieldwork and directing the impact plan.

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  • Dr Thomas Larsen

    Co-lead investigator, Max Planck Institute

    Dr Thomas Larsen obtained his MSc in zoology from Aarhus University and PhD in isotope ecology from University of Copenhagen. His research focuses broadly on how nutritional relationships between consumers and resources affect ecosystem functioning, and how anthropogenic activities affect food webs. In the LOMVIA project, Larsen will apply his expertise with isotopes and complex dietary modelling to characterize the prey of boreal and arctic guillemots across time and space.

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