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Rev. biol. mar. oceanogr. 48(1): 165-176



Effect of anthropic activity on the Imperial Cormorants and Rock Shags colonies in the Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego

Natalia G. Rosciano1, Walter S. Svagelj2 and Andrea Raya Rey1

1Ecología y Conservación de Vida Silvestre, Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Bernardo A. Houssay 200 (V9410CAB), Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
2Biología y Manejo de Recursos Acuáticos, Centro Nacional Patagónico, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Boulevard Brown 2915, Puerto Madryn (U9120ACF); Chubut, Argentina



Seabirds are important components of the marine ecosystem and provide an income for local economies through ecotourism. Human disturbance may affect colonial birds causing a decrease in reproductive success and population size. Breeding colonies of Phalacrocorax atriceps and P. magellanicus, are one of the major tourist attractions of Ushuaia city and the number of tourist vessels visiting colonies increased in recent years. We aim to evaluate if there is an influence of human activities on the distribution and abundance of Cormorants´ and Shags´ colonies and individuals at sea in the Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego. Explanatory variables from anthropic source, such as distance to the vessels route, and environmental variables, as adequate substrate type to nest and bathymetry, for each species were defined and related to the data recorded of the size of both species colonies and the feeding distribution. Allocation of colonies and distribution at sea of P. atriceps and P. magellanicus in the Beagle Channel were not affected by tourism activities. Abundance of P. magellanicus at the colonies was associated to islands with a large surface of rocky cliffs available for nesting. Distribution of P. atriceps at sea was related to shallow waters. Although no anthropogenic impact was noticed in our study, given the increase in boat traffic and tourism, more specific and long term studies are encouraged to provide the precise and site-specific guidelines for a sustainable tourism management allowing seabird conservation.

Key words:   Beagle Channel, human disturbance, Phalacrocorax atriceps, Phalacrocorax magellanicus, tourism


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