Research on the Isle of May
The Isle of May Long-Term Study (IMLOTS) forms part of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology’s network of long-term monitoring sites for detecting effects of environmental change, particularly climate change.
The study is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and is a Key Site in the Seabird Monitoring Programme. From its start in 1973, IMLOTS has grown so that today it is one of the most data-rich and complex study of its type in Europe.
For up-to-date news, follow them on Twitter: @CEHseabirds
They monitor many aspects of the biology of five species of seabirds breeding on the Isle of May:
• European shag
• Black-legged kittiwake
• Common guillemot
• Atlantic puffin
They use colour ringing to follow individuals and study their behaviour in detail. Repeated observations of colour-ringed individuals allow them to estimate the probability that a bird survives from year-to-year – the main factor affecting population growth in these long-lived birds. They also follow breeding success, measured as the average number of chicks fledged per breeding pair.
Colour ring data is used to understand shag winter movements and they are keen to receive sightings from anywhere along the north-east coast. Please send sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org
Breeding success is more likely to respond to year-to-year changes in food supply. In combination, the monitoring of annual survival and breeding success allows an understanding of the reasons why populations go up or down.
To understand year-to-year variation in more detail, they also monitor the food that seabirds bring to their chicks. Variation in the importance or size of different fish species, or age classes of the same species, can have important repercussions for the birds and tell us a lot about conditions in the sea.
Other recent research areas have included:
• the discovery that Isle of May puffins spend some of the winter in the Atlantic not remaining wholly in the North Sea (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00227-009-1365-0)
• the effects of severe weather during the breeding season (http://www.intres.com/abstracts/meps/v532/p257-268/)
• food stressed adult guillemots attack and kill neighbours chicks (http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/4125/1/Ashbrook_Biol_Letters.pdf)
Find out more about this research by clicking HERE.