Seabird Diet Database


Data table(s) 1

Other entity(ies) 0


This database was created as part of the Marine Ecosystem Research Programme (MERP), funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and aiming to integrate existing and new marine data sets with current models of marine ecosystem services to further our knowledge and understanding of the UK marine ecosystems. The aim of the Seabird Prey Database was to collate a new dataset from all known information on prey consumed by seabirds breeding in the British Isles. We have focused on the 10 most common seabird species by total biomass during the breeding season, accounting for 95% of biomass of seabirds consuming a marine diet in 2000. Thus the prey reflects the majority of marine prey consumed by seabirds in British waters. Information was primarily gathered from the primary literature by searching the web of science for titles, abstract or keywords containing ‘diet’, ‘food’, and predator’s species name. Data are presented as the frequency of each identified prey taxon per colony and year; data for each prey taxon is entered as a separate record. The contribution of the prey to the diet in the study year and site is expressed in one of three currencies commonly used in seabird dietary studies (Duffy & Jackson 1986, Barrett et al. 2007): frequency of occurrence, numerical frequency and biomass frequency (see the data attributes table).

Metadata Provider



  • Ruedi  Nager
  • James  Grecian
  • Agnes  Olin
  • Anna  Krystalli

Associated parties


    Temporal coverage

    Start date End date
    1933-01-01 2017-12-31

    Geographic coverage

    Taxonomic coverage

    Data tables

    seabirddiet.csv , records, Seabird Diet Database

    Physical: seabirddiet.csv
    attribute name definition format, unit or codes
    id Datapoint identifier dimensionless
    pred_common_name Common name of the seabird predator
    pred_species Scientific name of the seabird (predator) species
    year Year or midpoint of range of years (rounded up to the nearest year) during which diet samples were taken YYYY
    startyear Year or start of range of years during which diet samples were taken YYYY
    endyear Year or end of range of years during which diet samples were taken YYYY
    multiyear Whether samples were taken over a range of multiple years FALSE = FALSE TRUE = TRUE 
    location Location where diet samples were taken, typically a breeding colony, as given in the reporting study. Where samples were taken over a wider region or where sampling was not distinguished between two or more locations, the midpoint between multiple locations was recorded
    latitude Location latitude (N) degree
    longitude Location longitude (E) degree
    pred_breeding_status Whether diets were sampled during the Breeding season or the Non-breeding season breeding = breeding breeding & non-breeding = breeding & non-breeding non-breeding = non-breeding 
    pred_age_group Predator age group. Whether the diet samples were collected from Adult or Chick. When age group could not be determined “adult & chick” was recorded. chick = chick adult & chick = adult & chick adult = adult 
    prey_orig_descr The taxonomic term used in the original source
    prey_taxon Prey taxonomic identity. Matched to the lowest possible taxonomic level.
    freq_occ Relative frequency of occurrence of a prey taxon across diet samples in a given study. For stomach content analyses, whenever possible this was expressed as a proportion of stomachs that had some content (i.e. empty stomachs were excluded). Frequency of occurrence of all prey taxa recorded in a particular study won’t necessarily sum to 1. dimensionless
    freq_num Relative numerical frequency of prey taxon among total number of recorded prey items. Numerical frequencies of all recorded prey taxa in a given study should sum to 1. dimensionless
    freq_biomass Relative biomass of prey taxon with respect to the total biomass/volume/energy recorded in a given study (where biomass of all prey taxa was available) dimensionless
    prey_size Average prey size. Textual data as recorded in the data source which may contain standard deviation and inconsistent units
    sample_size Number of samples from which relative frequencies have been calculated dimensionless
    sample_type Method used to assess diet discard = discard pellet = pellet regurgitate = regurgitate stomach = stomach stomach & regurgitate = stomach & regurgitate stomach dead = stomach dead stomach shot = stomach shot stomach shot & dead = stomach shot & dead stomach water offloading = stomach water offloading vis obs = vis obs 
    source Data source dataset = dataset primary literature = primary literature report = report 
    notes Notes
    prey_age_group Prey age group. Whether prey was age 0 or +1 years old. >= 1 = >= 1 0 = 0 
    pred_rank Predator taxonomic rank species = species 
    pred_aphia_id WoRMS aphia id associated with original predator species name dimensionless
    pred_valid_name Valid name on WoRMS of original predator species
    pred_valid_aphia_id WoRMS aphia id associated with valid predator species name dimensionless
    prey_rank Prey taxonomic rank phylum = phylum subphylum = subphylum class = class order = order family = family genus = genus species = species 
    prey_aphia_id WoRMS aphia id associated with original prey taxon name dimensionless
    prey_valid_name Valid name on WoRMS of original prey taxon
    prey_valid_aphia_id WoRMS aphia id associated with valid prey taxon name dimensionless
    ref_n Number of references associated with record dimensionless
    ref_ids Reference identifiers associated with record

    Custom units

    unit name parent SI unit unit type description

    Other entities

    Intellectual Rights