Tracking the fine-scale movements of breeding seabirds with GPS loggers provides unique insight into how seabirds use the marine areas surrounding the colonies. In SEAPOP, the first study using GPS logging of seabirds was initiated in 2010, and by 2021 the tracking work includes 8 different species and 15 different colonies, spread from Rogaland to Spitsbergen. In SEAPOP, fine-scale GPS logging has so far only been conducted during the breeding season.

Aims and applications

The data from the GPS logging of breeding birds enables us to map in detail which areas are the most important for key activities when the birds are away from the nest, such as foraging, resting and preening. It also allows us to calculate the birds’ time budgets and energy expenditure. A principal aim is to explore the spatial dynamics of their movements both within and between seasons, and how this can explain key parameters such as diets, chick growth and breeding success. By comparing similar information across different sites and species, we will be able to explain in more general terms which environmental factors are key drivers of the distribution of seabirds around the colonies and how they affect their productivity. GPS logging thus not only delivers very important knowledge for a wide range of management issues, but also helps to build a more fundamental ecological understanding of how seabirds exploit the areas around the colonies, and how this varies over time. This adds some much needed pieces to the big puzzle of explaining what are the main threats to the seabirds in Norwegian waters.


SEAPOP uses a wide range of GPS loggers, with the choice of model depending on study species, research questions and colony accessibility. GPS loggers are fastened to the tail or back of the birds using tape, cable ties and/or glue, and are removed (or lost) after a given period of time, usually within a few days or weeks.

Black-legged kittiwake with GPS. Photo © Signe Christensen-Dalsgaard
On black-legged kittiwakes, GPS tags are fixed to the tail feathers using tape. The tagged birds get a little paint on their heads to ease recognition, and the loggers are removed 5-7 days after deployment.
Photo © Signe Christensen-Dalsgaard

Selected species and sites

The table below lists the number of years we have tracked different species using GPS loggers at different locations. The localities are described in links, and we present example maps for a few species/localities showing kernel densities of the species around the breeding site (click on the species name to see the map).

SpeciesLocalityNo. of years trackingContact person(s)
European shagHornøya2S. Christensen-Dalsgaard
European shagRøst4T. Anker-Nilssen
European shagSklinna12N. Dehnhard & S.-H. Lorentsen
European shagRunde3S. Christensen-Dalsgaard  & S.-H. Lorentsen
European shagJarstein3S. Christensen-Dalsgaard
Black-legged kittiwakeAlkefjellet/Hinlopen1S. Descamps
Black-legged kittiwakeKongsfjorden6S. Descamps
Black-legged kittiwakeIsfjorden6S. Descamps
Black-legged kittiwakeBjørnøya6H. Strøm
Black-legged kittiwakeHornøya3S. Christensen-Dalsgaard & T. Reiertsen
Black-legged kittiwakeVardø1T. Reiertsen & K. E. Erikstad 
Black-legged kittiwakeRøst5T. Anker-Nilssen
Black-legged kittiwakeAnda9S. Christensen-Dalsgaard
Black-legged kittiwakeSør-Gjæslingan4S. Christensen-Dalsgaard  & S.-H. Lorentsen
Black-legged kittiwakeHeidrun1S. Christensen-Dalsgaard
Ivory GullBarentsøya2H. Strøm
Common guillemotBjørnøya 6H. Strøm
Common guillemotHornøya9T. Reiertsen & K. E. Erikstad 
Common guillemotHjelmsøya5G. H. Systad
Common guillemotSklinna3N. Dehnhard & S.-H. Lorentsen
Brünnich’s guillemotAlkefjellet/Hinlopen2S. Descamps
Brünnich’s guillemotKongsfjorden2S. Descamps
Brünnich’s guillemotIsfjorden4S. Descamps
Brünnich’s guillemotBjørnøya6H. Strøm
RazorbillHjelmsøya2G. H. Systad
Atlantic puffinRøst1T. Anker-Nilssen & Annette Fayet
Atlantic puffinHjelmsøya1G. H. Systad
Atlantic puffinRunde2S. Christensen-Dalsgaard
Black guillemotRøst2T. Anker-Nilssen
Black guillemotSklinna3N. Dehnhard & S.-H. Lorentsen