Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 March 2013
Data about breeding populations of birds in the Antarctica are rare and fragmented. Thus, information about the status of the breeding populations of Antarctic birds is crucial given the current scenario of climate change, which is particularly acute in Antarctica. This paper presents new information about the populations of the Antarctic tern Sterna vittata, the kelp gull Larus dominicanus, the southern giant petrel Macronectes giganteus, the Antarctic skua Catharacta antarctica lonnbergi, the chinstrap penguin Pygoscelis antarctica and the gentoo penguin Pygoscelis papua on Byers Peninsula (Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands). We used line transects counts to estimate both densities and numbers of nests of the different species. We estimate that there are 398.96 birds km-2 of southern giant petrels (2793 individuals), 62.4 birds km-2 of Antarctic tern (3746 individuals) and 269.1 birds km-2 of kelp gull (1884 individuals). Furthermore, we found 15 nests of Antarctic skua in 25 km2, from which we can estimate that 60–91 birds must breed on Byers Peninsula. We also censused two colonies of gentoo penguins (3000 and 1200 pairs) and 50 pairs of chinstrap. Compared to previous estimates, gentoo penguins seem to have increased whereas chinstrap penguin have decreased. Finally, the populations of Antarctic tern, southern giant petrel and kelp gull have stabilized or slightly increased.