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Sat, 24 Feb 2018 19:57:23 +0000 Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) maxkirsch

the new range map omits much of the breeding and wintering range of the species worldwide

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Just a note that the old range map was a lot worse. @cmcheatle, maybe better to start with http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=22694497 ?

Posted by bouteloua over 1 year ago (Flag)
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I can add in the Arctic areas for the summer, even if it is mainly ocean. I'm not really sure about wintering ranges, or how to define "range", for instance, the species is occasionally seen south of about Delaware, but would be considered vagrants. I tried to adopt a definition of "it would not be considered a surprise" to see the species, but if you feel broader is better, I can do that.

The original range map we replaced looks like the "resident" layer on the ICUN page - basically the Aleutians and southern Newfoundland only.

Posted by cmcheatle over 1 year ago (Flag)
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The new map is better for the areas it does cover, but it appears to be missing the entire east Asian (and much of the high Arctic) range of the species. Black-legged Kittiwake also breeds along the western and eastern coasts of Greenland, most of the Arctic Ocean islands north of Russia (Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya [and the adjacent northern Taymyr Peninsula], [apparently at least some of] the New Siberian Islands, Wrangel and Herald Islands, etc.), along the coast of the Russian mainland from at least the Kolyma River delta (but apparently also farther west along most of the coast of the Sakha Republic?) east and south around the Chukchi and Kamchatka peninsulas into the northern Sea of Okhotsk, and on the Commander Islands, the Kuril Islands south to Urup Island, and on Cape Patience (Terpeniya) on Sakhalin Island (as well as a couple small colonies in northwestern Spain). It winters south along the coasts of Asia at least to South Korea and southern Japan (along both coasts of Japan); and south in the east Atlantic to nw Africa (and in smaller numbers into the western Mediterranean and apparently the Black Sea); and well offshore throughout much of the North Atlantic (maybe to around 35°N, at least in the east Atlantic) and North Pacific (to around maybe 41°N).

Posted by maxkirsch over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Thanks. I am relatively new to curating. I have tried to review the appropriate material, but still have not found anything that defines how a "range" should be defined. For example, you mention you mention Japan. GBIF has 215,000 occurrence records for the species. 214 of those are from Japan. Does that meet the standard of being "in range" ? To me, especially in an area like this which is not lacking in observation eyes, that is a vagrant species.

Spain as you mention has 1,200 records, mainly highly localized. Does it make sense to capture those "enclaves"

I have added the Greenland coasts (not applied just on a local file right now) as well as the far Russian north,and a couple of islands in the Canadian north).

Likewise, should the range of a species like this which is still effectively a land bird encompass the ocean areas. For example, is it best to include the entire North Atlantic, even if any individuals there are simply passing over.

Any guidance appreciated as want to help, but not produce stuff that is considered of quality.

Posted by cmcheatle over 1 year ago (Flag)
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I wouldn't only rely on GBIF if I were you (it's a great resource, but global coverage is highly uneven, so just because you don't see many records in an area doesn't mean a species is necessarily rare there) - I'd consult authoritative works such as Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America (Olsen and Larsson 2004); Birds of North America Online; Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive; relevant papers if you can find them; good field guides to the regions involved (if such field guides exist); etc.

A couple notes: Black-legged Kittiwake is not a vagrant to Japan, despite what it might look like in GBIF (and looking at the GBIF map myself, I'm not sure I see it as indicating that the species is a vagrant to Japan) - it's fairly common (or at least not that uncommon) off the coasts of northern Japan in winter, and less common but still regular farther south. On the east coast of North America, birds south of Delaware aren't considered vagrants (contra your statement above). And sure, they're rare and localized breeders in Spain, but they're still not rare in winter off the Atlantic coast (they're never super localized in winter where they occur). (Essentially, much more of the coast of Asia, Europe/nw Africa, and the east coast of North America should be included in the map - they're certainly more common in a lot of these areas than they are on e.g. Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, or the coast of Florida, which are included in the map.)

Also, kittiwakes are truly pelagic during the non-breeding season - they're not "still effectively a land bird" or "simply passing over"; they forage, rest, etc. offshore (often well offshore, not in sight of land) for several months of the year - see the BNA habitat description a couple comments down. (So the map should extend much farther offshore than it currently does, too.)

A couple relevant range descriptions are below (too long to include in the same comment, sorry)...

Posted by maxkirsch over 1 year ago (Flag)
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From Birds of East Asia (Brazil 2009 - pretty much the best field guide to the region covered): "...breeds on Arctic Ocean islands, coastal Yakutia, Chukotka, Kamchatka, Commander Is., and Sea of Okhotsk to Sakhalin. Moves through Bering Sea, N Pacific and both coasts of Japan (common off N Japan, mainly Nov-Mar), uncommon in winter in Korea, and accidental to coastal E China and Taiwan."
(The range map is visible in the Google Books preview)

Posted by maxkirsch over 1 year ago (Flag)
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From chapter 3 ("The breeding seabirds of the Russian Far East") of the publication Seabirds of the Russian Far East, for precise breeding distribution in eastern Russia:
"In the Arctic Far East seas, the western boundary of the kittiwakes’ nesting range is Chetrekhstolbovoy Island near the Kolyma River delta. Closer to the mainland coast, it does not breed west of Kittiwarken Rock in Chaun Bay (Kondratyev 1986)... The total number of kittiwakes nesting on Wrangel and Gerald [sic] islands ranges from 70 000 to 175 000 birds annually (Stishov et al. 1991). The total nesting population in the Far East Arctic basin as a whole could reach 250 000 or 300 000 (A.Ya. Kondratyev, unpubl. data). On Big Diomede, 3400 kittiwakes were counted on cliffs in 1991, but not more than 1500 pairs nested there. In that same year, the population of the northern part of the Bering Sea was estimated to be about 900 000–1 100 000 birds (Kondratyev 1993b). In the Kamchatka Region, about 202 000 pairs nest along the eastern coast of the peninsula, and perhaps another 80 000 pairs nest along the western coast (Vyatkin, in press b). Some 40 000 pairs nest on the Komandorskiye Islands (Vyatkin and Artyukhin 1994; Artyukhin, in press b). In the northern Sea of Okhotsk, the largest kittiwake colony is on Talan Island, which holds 30 000–35 000 pairs (A.Ya. Kondratyev, unpubl. data). About 90 000 nest on the Kuril Islands, with the largest colonies on Ptichy, Antziferov, Raikoke, Matua, and some other islands. The most southern colonies on the Kurils are on Urup Island (Velizhanin 1978). The only nesting area on Sakhalin is Cape Terpeniya, which had 5000 birds in 1981 (Nechaev 1991). A colony on Tyuleniy Island, decimated by uncontrolled exploitation in the 1950s, has recently recovered its status. In 1947–1948, it held 1500 birds (Gizenko 1955), but by 1963 there were not more than 200 birds (Benkovsky 1968). From 1974 to 1976, it held about 300 birds (Nechaev and Timofeeva 1980), but numbers increased to 1680 in 1991, 1800 in 1992, 1900 in 1993, and 2200 in 1994 (Trukhin and Kuzin 1996). It is also a common breeding bird on some islands of the Shantars (Yakhontov 1977).

Posted by maxkirsch over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Here's the description of habitat in the winter range from BNA:
"Pelagic. Does not normally come to land, although immatures more likely to do so. On a transect between Alaska and Hawaii (Oct-Nov 1976), species associated with surface temperatures from 7.1-13.6°C and salinity range 32.0-33.6 o/oo (Gould 1983). In California, concentrations from shoreline to at least 185 km offshore, with little diminution of numbers; most numerous north of 39°N, highest densities 2-3 birds km2 (Briggs et al. 1987b). In Gulf of Alaska, most abundant over shelfbreak waters in winter (Forsell and Gould 1981), low numbers (1 bird km2) over oceanic waters (Gould et al. 1982). Seventy-five percent of birds wintering in Kodiak Shelf region (estimated population 65,000) occurred over waters deeper than 200 m (Forsell and Gould 1981). Relatively abundant at Bering Sea ice edge in winter (Divoky 1987a).

"In e. North America, distributed widely along banks and shelf edges, but also seen in deeper waters. Prefers cooler waters on Georges Bank (Powers 1983). Densities higher at some shelf edges (tail of the Grand Banks and se. Labrador shelf, Brown 1986d)."

Posted by maxkirsch over 1 year ago (Flag)
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(I don't have a copy of Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America, and the Amazon preview doesn't include the pages with the range map and description of the distribution, but I might be able to get access to a copy at some point in the next couple days.)

Would it be possible to combine parts of the range map you produced with the BirdLife/IUCN range map (which already covers all of the omitted areas)? (Also, I don't have any experience creating these sorts of maps so I have no idea how difficult/time-consuming this would be, but is there an easy way to trim a map so that it follows the coastline or at least doesn't extend so far inland, especially for the wintering range?)

Posted by maxkirsch over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Max,

I don't know of a way to cut the map or trace the coastline. If you want a range to solely encompass the coastline area, I believe it pretty much needs to be done by hand drawing the range.

I can merge the 2 maps if requested. I do confess I still dont have a really good handle on what iNat wants a range to represent.

For example if I use the ICUN or Birdlife maps, something like the South Carolina coast is defined as in range. In Ebird (and I know that is not the only viable source, but it is likely the most used in North America), there is 1 record since 1986 in the state, yet Lake Ontario would be excluded, where they are seen annually in numbers (from purely personal experience I can validate this, I live on the Lake Ontario shore)

Posted by cmcheatle over 1 year ago (Flag)
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The IUCN/BirdLife maps don't include the coast of South Carolina - the closest they get is a couple dozen km offshore, which seems roughly accurate (although it might indeed be a bit more accurate if they were moved a little farther offshore); Black-legged Kittiwake is evidently regular enough in offshore waters that it's an inland-only review species on the South Carolina checklist. (The most recent study of pelagic bird distributions off South Carolina that I could find seems to be this one, which describes kittiwakes as "...rare offshore, late December through mid-March... Feeding flocks of kittiwakes were observed on roughly two-thirds of winter trips to hard-ground reefs along the Continental Shelf when large commercial grouper/snapper boats were present. Counts ranged from three to 12 birds...")

If merging the maps, would it also be possible to maybe move the inland border on the west coast of North America so it isn't quite so far inland? (It probably makes sense for the map to include the coast since that's where most iNat observations of kittiwakes are [the IUCN/BirdLife map stops before it reaches the coast, which might be more accurate in terms of kittiwake density, but the kittiwakes that get seen the most by people are going to be those that make it to land, and while it wouldn't be the end of the world if those were marked as out of range, it wouldn't be the best thing either]. At the same time, though, the border of the new range map extends dozens of km inland from the coast [even up to a couple hundred km in some areas], which doesn't seem that realistic. If tracing along the coast is very time-consuming, I can try to work on it if you'd prefer - I'm busy through this Thursday, but I'd be free after that)

Posted by maxkirsch over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Max,

I should be able to cut parts of the polygon out, rather than retracing the coast, or redoing it from scratch. I can give that I try. I'm stuck @ home for the day with no means of going out.

The real question is what if any other changes seem appropriate if I merge the ICUN map into the existing, as once I merge the 2 into a single, it seems like it is too complex to run QGIS processes on.

Posted by cmcheatle over 1 year ago (Flag)
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This is the workflow I have figured out:
1. Download a shapefile that represents the world coastlines
2. Run a geoprocessing task that creates a fixed distance buffer both inshore and offshore from the buffer - say 10km either way
3. Load in the hand-drawn inland ranges. Run another geoprocessing tasks that uses that range as an input, compares it to the buffer from step 2, and removes any areas in that range which are not also inside that 10km buffer, so as to remove any places it got too far inland.
4. Merge the result with the offshore range map from the ICUN.
5. Manually add back any remaining areas. The most obvious is the Great Lakes (unfortunately the shapefiles for step 1 I can find exclude them, so that disappears when I run step 3). I do think the Great Lakes should be in range for this species. I personally saw 10 this winter in 40 kilometers between my house and Toronto, and an 11th at Niagara Falls. They are annual, regular and in decent but low numbers.

That then gets a very close to ideal map. 2 issues remain.
- in some places the ICUN only comes to say 20-30 km to shore, which means there are uncaptured "slivers" between the 2 maps. I can either extend the buffer used in step 2 to say 25km, which cuts those slivers down significantly, although a few would still remain. This of course means the inland "range" goes further inland. Or the slivers can be manually filled, which is doable, but tiresome. Or even just leave them which looks a little off
- there is a bug in how GIS handles polygons very close to or which cross the international date line (when you try and create them, they reproject to wrap around the entire globe). Because of this I cant seem to get the last 100 or so or the most extreme northeast Russian mainland and the furthest out Aleutians incorporated. Maybe folks with higher end GIS skills or tools than I can do it, but all the web reading I did was well beyond me.

Thoughts ?

Cassi - I have your email, Max if you want to share yours, I can send pictures to show what it would look like.

Posted by cmcheatle over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Not sure if anyone is taking this forward, but as a stopgap have uploaded the current IUCN range map

Posted by rjq 2 months ago (Flag)

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