- Geographical scale of the assessment:
- Regional, Mediterranean Sea
- Contributing countries:
- Mid-Term Strategy (MTS) Core Theme:
- 2-Biodiversity and Ecosystems
- Ecological Objective:
- EO1: Biological diversity is maintained or enhanced. The quality and occurrence of coastal and marine habitats and the distribution and abundance of coastal and marine species are in line with prevailing physiographic, hydrographic, geographic and climatic conditions.
- IMAP Common Indicator:
- Common Indicator 3 (CI3): Species distributional range (related to seabirds)
- Indicator Assessment Factsheet Code:
GES Definition: The species continues to occur in all their Mediterranean natural habitat.
- State: No significant shrinkage in the population distribution in the Mediterranean in all indicator species, and for colonial-breeding seabirds (i.e., most species in the Mediterranean).
- State: For colonies: New colonies are established and the population is encouraged to spread among several alternative breeding sites.
The Mediterranean Sea is considered an important habitat for seabirds, including particularly the Critically Endangered Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), the endemic Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) and the little tern (Sterna alibifrons). In addition to these species, a number of other seabird species are listed in the Annexes of the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean of the Barcelona Convention (SPA-BD Protocol).
The breeding distribution range of a seabird species may be assessed using a wide diversity of methodological approaches, most of them quite simple. For the most visible species, such as gulls and terns, simple visual inspection of the most suitable habitat might suffice, as these birds use open nests and have daily activity at the colony. Shags might be more difficult to confirm as breeders, as they often breed sparsely along coastal cliffs and islets and use crevices or caves that may be difficult to detect. In such cases, specific surveys from coastal vantage points or (even better) boats might be useful to confirm their breeding in some sites.
Results and Status, including trends
Important breeding or feeding grounds for the region’s seabirds are difficult to define because there are only a few countries with active long-term seabird research programmes.
A summary of the presence/absence of the species selected for monitoring is shown in Table 1, per sub-region and country. As with other biodiversity components, seabirds show a higher diversity to the west and north of the Mediterranean basin (Coll et al., 2008).
The southeast to northwest increasing diversity gradient might be partly influenced by prospection/monitoring effort. For many eastern and southern countries, as well as some Adriatic countries, the information on seabird breeding populations or occurrence at sea is patchy or completely lacking. This might be partly because the birds are actually rare or absent there, but could also be related to lack of data. Particularly little information is available for Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and Turkey, as well as Albania. There is no information from Bosnia-Herzegovina, but this country has extremely limited coastal area, and most likely has no relevant seabird breeding populations. Information from Libya is also patchy, and focuses on terns.
- Despite breeding distribution patterns are relatively easy to assess, information is patchy and often lacking.
- A southeast to northwest increasing diversity gradient has been observed, in agreement with productivity patterns in the region, but this might be confounded by larger data gaps in the southernmost and easternmost countries.
The reference list includes Works that are not specifically quoted in the text but have been consulted to assess distribution and population figures:
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