Seabirds

P.C. HARPER, E.B. SPURR, and R.H. TAYLOR INTRODUCTION

Limiting factors influencing the distibution of seabirds in the Antarctic Sector of the Pacific include the paucity of islands where birds can breed and the lack of a reliable food supply in the region. This lack of food arises because there are few continental margins not covered by pack ice where deep nutrient-rich water can upwell to provide a consistent source for zooplankton on which oceanic birds prey.

The main body of the southern Pacific is in fact a vast relentless ocean where incessant gales generated by deep low-pressure cells chase each other from west to east. These storm systems provide a benefit for seabirds in creating an important migration corridor which extends from the New Zealand Province, where subantarctic bird species are abundant, to the Scotia Sea, where there is abundant summer food for both the migrant and indigenous avian predators.

The object of this chapter is to review briefly the available information on the birds of the polar Pacific and to highlight some of the problems associated with studying birds in this little-known region.

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