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Long Term Monitoring and Survey (LTMS) - Marine Predators

The British Antarctic Survey carries out Long Term Monitoring and Survey (LTMS) work to measure changes in Antarctic ecosystems and carry out research on the processes that drive them. Marine predators are thought to be sensitive to changes in ecosystem properties including changes brought about by natural ecosystem processes (such as climate variability), and those brought about by humans (such as fishing). Monitoring breeding populations of seabirds and seals are therefore an important part of the BAS LTMS programme. The BAS LTMS data provide scientists with seabird and seal indicators for the Scotia Sea, part of the south-west Atlantic. These indicators include population estimates, reproductive success and the quality and abundance of food eaten by predators.

Impacts of climate

BAS data are essential to modelling studies that relate population and breeding performance of seabirds and seals to environmental variability and change. Recent analyses show that modes of climate variability, for example, the Southern Annular Mode to and the El Niño Southern Oscillation, affect upper trophic level predators (including seals and penguins).

Science into policy

The Antarctic is unique in that scientists and policy makers from many nations have adopted an ecosystem approach for managing fisheries. This presents considerable challenges for the BAS Ecosystem programme. One of the programme objectives is to help inform the regional conservation and management authority for Southern Ocean fisheries, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). BAS data on seabird populations are also used by the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) to understand and highlight reasons why these species are declining. This information is used to develop strategies to minimise or eliminate the major threats, including campaigning for the wider use of mitigation to reduce the currently high rates of seabird incidental mortality in many Southern Ocean fisheries.

Data collection

Data to support the Marine Predator LTMS programme objectives are collected at the following locations: