The RSPB has produced new maps identifying the location of marine hot-spots for some of the UK's most threatened seabirds, based on tracking data, for the first time.
A five-year RSPB project previously tracked the movements of Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills and European Shags from colonies around the UK during the breeding season. Now, hotspot mapping techniques have been applied to this data to identify the most important areas used during this crucial time.
All four species are either Amber- or Red-listed. The new research demonstrates the large areas required by UK seabirds and comes at a time when there is a vital need to understand more about our seabirds as decisions are being made relating to fishing, offshore windfarms and how we can best protect our seas.
Four different hot-spot mapping techniques were trialled during the project and provide a range of potential areas that could be considered for formal protection. The researchers recommend that the choice of hot-spot identification method should be informed by considering species ecology alongside conservation goals to ensure hot-spots are of sufficient size to protect target populations.