Jamaica Bay studies III: Abiotic determinants of distribution and abundance of gulls (Larus)

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Abstract

The distribution and abundance of gulls were examined at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (New York) from 31 May 1978 to 31 May 1979. Gulls were found to be affected by tidal, temporal and weather-related factors. The distribution of gulls was affected primarily by tidal factors on the bay, and by temporal (seasonal, circadian) and weather-related factors on the freshwater ponds. The most important weather-related factors were temperature, wind velocity and wind direction. Herring (L. argentatus), great black-backed (L. fuscus) and ring-billed gulls (L. delawarensis) fed on the bay at low tides, and used the ponds at high tide. Laughing gulls (L. atricilla) fed on the bay at low tide and on rising tides. Herring and great black-backed gulls were present all year, but were most abundant in the winter, ring-billed gulls were abundant in spring and early fall, and laughing gulls were present in the summer following the breeding season but were absent in winter. Gulls used the ponds during high velocity, north winds, when they usually rested or preened. Multiple regression models were used to determine the factors explaining the variability in the numbers of gulls. Temporal variables were important contributors to accounting for the variability in the numbers of great black-backed and herring gulls only; tidal variables were significant for great black-backed and herring gulls on the bay, and for ring-billed and laughing gulls on all areas; and weather variables were significant for all species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-216
Number of pages26
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science

Keywords

  • Birds
  • Long Island coast
  • bays
  • diurnal, distribution
  • estuaries
  • temperature
  • tidal cycles
  • wind

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