Fratercula arctica


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Fratercula arctica
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Atlantic Puffin, Puffin

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Calvert, R., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Atlantic Puffin can be found throughout the North Atlantic Ocean, from north-west Greenland (to Denmark) to the coastline of Newfoundland (Canada) in the west, and from north Norway down to the Canary Islands, Spain in the east (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Algeria; Belgium; Canada; Denmark; Faroe Islands; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Greenland; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; Russian Federation; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Spain; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Tunisia; United Kingdom; United States
Austria; Bermuda; Croatia; Finland; Hungary; Malta; Montenegro; Poland; Serbia (Serbia)
Present - origin uncertain:
Estonia; Latvia; Lithuania; Monaco; Western Sahara
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour Atlantic Puffins are pursuit-divers that catch most of their prey within 30 m of the water surface (Piatt & Nettleship 1985). They are capable of diving to 60 m, although they usually forage at depths less than 30 m (Piatt & Nettleship 1985, Burger and Simpson 1986). Birds gather on the water around nesting sites, sometimes for several days, before taking up residence on land (BirdLife International 2000). They are frequently kleptoparasitised by Kittiwakes (Camphuysen et al 2007). Breeding females make a greater contribution to feeding chicks than do males, whereas males spend a greater proportion of time at the breeding burrow (Creelman and Storey 1991). Diet They prey on 'forage' species, including juvenile pelagic fishes, such as herring Clupea harengus, juvenile and adult capelin Mallotus villosus, and sandeel Ammodytes spp. (Barrett et al. 1987). At times, they also prey on juvenile demersal fishes, such as gadids (Harris and Hislop 1978, Martin 1989, Rodway and Montevecchi 1996). Sandeels usually form the majority of the prey fed to chicks (Corkhill 1973, Hislop and Harris 1985, Harris and Wanless 1986, Martin 1989, Harris and Riddiford 1989), and many chicks starve during periods of low sandeel abundance (Martin 1989), although there are exceptions, such as at Skomer Island in 1969 when sprat made up the majority of the diet fed to chicks (Corkhill 1973). Foraging range This is a relatively wide-ranging species. When feeding chicks, birds generally forage within 10 km of their colony, but may range as far as 50 to 100 km or more (Harris 1984, Rodway and Montevecchi 1996). A boat transect run on one day in 1970 found that 85% of all birds seen were concentrated within just 3 km of the colony (BirdLife International 2000), but other studies have found peaks in the density of foraging birds at up to 40 km distance from the colony (Webb et al. 1985, Stone et al. 1992, Stone et al. 1993, BirdLife International 2000). Similarly, surveys at the Isle of May, Scotland, suggest that birds forage close to the breeding colony, but also at other sites up to 40 km away (Wanless et al. 1990, BirdLife International 2000). Various studies (Pearson 1968, Corkhill 1973, Bradstreet and Brown 1985, BirdLife International 2000), based on different breeding colonies, have estimated the theoretical maximum foraging radius at anywhere from 32 km (Corkhill 1973) to 200 km (Bradstreet and Brown 1985).

Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Fratercula arctica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 29 August 2015.
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