The Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) is a rare species in west Greenland, where it generally breeds on islands in association with the Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea). The strength of this association was confirmed on the archipelago of Grønne Ejland, the largest tern colony in Greenland, where Arctic Terns inhabited all four major islands until 15 years ago, but now have abandoned two of them; the Red Phalarope left the same two islands after a few years, but not the islands still inhabited by terns. The terns apparently disappeared from the two islands due to the presence of Arctic Foxes (Alopex lagopus) over several years. The disappearance of the Red Phalarope could have been a response to the absence of breeding terns, or could have happened as a direct result of predation and disturbance from foxes. The Red-necked Phalarope (P. lobatus), however, still breeds on the islands abandoned by the terns. It might be that the Red Phalarope is more vulnerable to fox predation than the Red-necked Phalarope, which may partly explain why the former of the two species in west Greenland breeds only in tern colonies on islands, whereas the latter is widely distributed, including inland areas.
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Vol. 27 • No. 4