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Social Media Reports Inform the Spatio-temporal Distribution of Leach’s Storm-Petrel Strandings Across the Island of Newfoundland

Tori V. Burt1,*, Sydney M. Collins1, and William A. Montevecchi2

1Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology Program, Departments of Psychology and Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s, NL A1C 5S7, Canada. 2Department of Psychology, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s, NL A1C 5S7, Canada. *Corresponding author.

Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 30, Issue 2 (2023): 151–160

Hydrobates leucorhous (Leach’s Storm-Petrel) are small, pelagic seabirds that breed at several large colonies around the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, which support ~5,000,000 breeding adults. The Northwest Atlantic population has declined by ~54% from 1974 to 2018. A major conservation concern is the stranding of birds in brightly lit coastal towns. We used social media reports to map 5411 Leach’s Storm-Petrel strandings across the island of Newfoundland from 1 May to 30 November 2021. Sites on the eastern Avalon Peninsula were stranding hotpots, and the peak stranding period spanned mid-September to mid-October. We considered how attraction to anthropogenic light influenced the geographic and temporal patterns of the strandings. We also examined the use of social media information to gauge ecological events that occur over large geographic scales. We suggest further research and conservation strategies.

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