versión On-line ISSN 1850-4884
FAVERO, Marco y SILVA RODRIGUEZ, María Patricia. Status and conservation of pelagic birds using the Argentinean continental shelf as a foraging area. Hornero [online]. 2005, vol.20, n.1, pp. 95-110. ISSN 1850-4884.
The importance of the Argentinean continental shelf is not only linked with its extension but also to its high productivity. That's why this area is extensively used as foraging area by a large number and biomass of top predators both breeding in the continental shores and in islands away from the continent. Among these top predators, seabirds have remarkable flying abilities and perform extensive foraging and migratory trips, in the order of thousands of kilometers. The distribution of these birds (and other marine top predators) along the continental shelf is not uniform, with higher densities in those areas where the oceanographic characteristics promote prey concentration; more predators are usually aggregated close to frontal systems characterized by horizontal thermal gradients. In spite of some seabird populations currently suffering conservation problems allied with pollution, human disturbance and habitat degradation, the most important issues seem to be related to the introduction of predators in breeding areas, and to the negative effects of the interaction with fisheries. The Argentinean continental shelf has global importance and plays a key role in the maintenance of seabird and marine mammal populations, both local and those coming from adjacent and remote areas. There is an urgent need of gathering and analyzing new information on the distribution of top predators along the continental shelf in order to define important areas. The combined analysis of these data with the distribution of fishing effort and the exploitation of non renewable resources will be crucial to the adequate development and implementation of conservation and management programs.
Palabras clave : Argentina; Argentinean continental shelf; conservation; frontal systems; pelagic birds; seabirds.