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Reproduction of the white tailed sea eagle haliaeetus albicilla in sweden

Reproduction of the white tailed sea eagle haliaeetus albicilla in sweden

Holarctic Ecology 8(3): 211-227

Sixty-eight white-tailed sea eagle territories were studied on the Swedish Baltic coast in 1964-1982 and 22 territories in Swedish Lapland in 1976-1982. Older data were assembled for comparison. The breeding frequency of adult pairs was high in both study areas (ca. 90%). Median egg-laying dates were 17 March (Baltic) and 7 April (Lapland). Average clutch size and egg volume did not differ between samples from the Baltic taken between 1856 and 1982. Average clutch size was significantly smaller in Lapland (1.6 eggs) than on the Baltic coast (2.1 eggs). Clutch size in Lapland was positively related to carrion availability during March. Nestling survival was significantly lower in Lapland, due to starvation in broods of more than one young. Brood loss was significantly more frequent in Lapland. At the Baltic, nest success decreased from 75 to 22%, and brood size from 1.8 to 1.2, from the early 1950's to the mid 1960's. Nest success in 1976-1982 was significantly lower at the Baltic (26%) than in Lapland (45%), with a much larger proportion of consistently failing pairs. The proportion of eggs laid that resulted in fledged young was estimated at 16% at the Baltic and 39% in Lapland. It is concluded that egg production and nestling survival were suppressed by limited food supply and nest success by human interference in Lapland, and that the reproductive impairment of the Baltic population was due primarily to contamination with toxic substances, mainly DDE.

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