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Distribution, relative abundance, and prey demand by double-crested cormorants on Manitoulin Island lakes vs. Lake Huron Coast

Ridgway, Mark S., Middel, Trevor A.
Journal of Great Lakes research 2011 v.37 no.4 pp. 609-615
Phalacrocorax auritus, aquatic ecosystems, basins, coasts, foraging, habitats, lakes, nesting, nests, population distribution, summer, surveys, Lake Huron
An aerial distance sampling survey of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) was conducted in the northern region of Lake Huron (North Channel; four largest lakes of Manitoulin Island; South Shore of Manitoulin Is. facing the main body of the lake) to assess the relative distribution, abundance and prey demand by cormorants on inland lake vs. coastal habitat. On a per area basis, the density (approx. 1–2cormorants∙km⁻²) and prey demand (approx. 1.2kgha⁻¹) of cormorants in the four inland lakes matched that of the North Channel. The South Shore had approximately half the density and prey demand as the other two areas. Cormorants on the inland lakes of Manitoulin Island represented 13% early in the season and a high of 33% of the total population for this region of Lake Huron later in the summer. Estimating regional distributions of cormorants within the Great Lakes basin is important because mapped nest colonies and nest counts are not representative of the actual distribution of foraging cormorants during and after the nesting season. There are two general conclusions to emerge from this survey. First, aquatic productivity from both Great Lakes coast and inland lakes contributes to trends in population and distribution of cormorants in the northern region of Lake Huron and perhaps elsewhere. Second, inland aquatic ecosystems are important throughout a season for foraging cormorants from the Great Lakes and may become more important as Great Lake productivity trends downward.