Change in occupancy and density of nesting Atlantic puffins and razorbills on Machias Seal Island between 2011 and 2019

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University of New Brunswick


At Machias Seal Island (MSI), populations of nesting Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) and Razorbills (Alca torda) are stable and increasing (respectively). The purpose of my study was to determine whether the increasing Razorbill population has caused a change in the spatial distribution of nesting puffins on the island. I hypothesized that the larger, more competitive Razorbills outcompete puffins for nesting space, resulting in the movement of puffins to alternative regions of the island. Using data from Alcid surveys that occurred in 2011, 2015, 2016, and 2019, I assessed occupancy and density of puffins and Razorbills in each of 1,753 surveyed quadrats. Using generalized linear models in an information theoretic approach, I found no changes in occupancy or density of either species. However, I note the short timespan (eight years) covered in my study and suggest that continued monitoring and analysis of changes in puffin and Razorbill occupancy and density.