Seabird surveys in January - March 2006 of a poorly known area of the Southern Ocean adjacent to the East Antarctic coast identified six seabird communities, several of which were comparable to seabird communities identified both in adjacent sectors of the Antarctic, and elsewhere in the Southern Ocean. These results support previous proposals that the Southern Ocean seabird community is ... characterised by an ice-associated assemblage and an open-water assemblage, with the species composition of the assemblages reflecting local (Antarctic-resident) breeding species, and the migratory routes and feeding areas of distant-breeding taxa, respectively. Physical environmental covariates such as sea-ice cover, distance to continental shelf and time of year influenced the distribution and abundance of seabirds observed, but the roles of these factors in the observed spatial and temporal patterns in seabird assemblages was confounded by the duration of the survey. Occurrence of a number of seabird taxa exhibited significant correlations with krill densities at one or two spatial scales, but only three taxa (Arctic tern, snow petrel and dark shearwaters, i.e. sooty and short-tailed shearwaters) showed significant correlations at a range of spatial scales. Dark shearwater abundances showed correlations with krill densities across the range of spatial scales examined.
This work was conducted on the BROKE-West voyage of the Aurora Australis.