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Abstract

The paper summarizes results of twenty years of seabird observations carried out between 1977 and 1996 on the western shore of Admiralty Bay (King George Island, South Shetlands, Antarctic). Changes in population size, distribution and phenology of the breeding species as well as the appearance of non-breeding species are reported. A total of 34 species of birds were observed, including 13 breeding species. Among the non-breeding species, four were observed to visit the site regularly, six rarely, and the remaining 11 were observed only occasionally. Among breeding populations, three Pygoscelis penguin species, the main krill consumers, were most numerous. The Adélie Penguin (P. adeliae) dominated among the penguins nesting in the investigated areas, reaching 23,661 breeding pairs in 1978. Two other penguin species were less abundant with population sizes of approximately 7,200 breeding pairs for the Chinstrap Penguin (P. antarcticus) and 3,100 breeding pairs for the Gentoo Penguin (P. papua) in the same year. During the following two decades, breeding populations of pygoscelid species experienced a declining trend and their numbers were reduced by 68.0% for Chinstrap, 67.1% for Gentoo, and 33.9% for Adélie Penguins. The data reported here represent a unique reference basis and provide valuable information about indicator species, suitable for comparison with contemporary observations of bird populations in the Antarctic Peninsula region, a place of rapidly occurring climate changes and intensive harvesting of marine living resources.
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