JUN 18, 2018 6:29 PM PDT

Rising Ocean Temperatures Impact the Survival of Juvenile Albatrosses

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

The black-browed albatross is perhaps one of the most easily-discernable seabirds because of its iconic facial characteristics and impressively-long wingspan. But it’s not invulnerable to the harmful effects inflicted by rising ocean temperatures.

The black-browed albatross.

Image Credit: Stephanie Jenouvrier, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A new study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology this week by researchers from the United States-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) underscores how these climbing ocean temperatures may threaten the well-being of juvenile black-browed albatrosses on Kerguelen Island.

Animal experts have been monitoring the population on Kerguelen Island every year since the late 70’s, and a closer analysis of these records showed that population growth inconsistencies were most evident during times of sea temperature change in the late-Winter – the time when the birds’ eggs notoriously hatch.

After these juveniles hatch from their eggs, they later experience increased difficulty in obtaining food from the ocean as warmer waters drive prey away. The result is a mass of hungry babies that suffer from malnourishment, and many don’t survive the complications.

"Sea surface temperature is widely used as an indicator of food availability for marine predators because warmer temperatures usually result in lower primary productivity in marine ecosystems, ultimately reducing the availability of prey," explained Dr. Stéphanie Jenouvrier from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

"As our oceans are projected to warm, fewer juvenile albatrosses will manage to survive, and populations are expected to decline at a faster rate," she continued.

Related: Fisheries and climate issues threaten albatrosses

With the current trend of things working against the black-browed albatross’ favor, the researchers expect annual population growth rate declines somewhere in the ballpark of 5.3%. The findings paint a grim picture of the seabirds’ fate, and it could remain that way unless ocean warming patterns shift during the critical juvenile stage of their lives.

"Albatrosses and other seabirds are long-lived predators that fly very long distances to forage at sea and nest on land. As a key indicator of ecosystem health, studying how seabirds fare in the face of climate change can help us predict the ecological impacts on the entire marine food web" added study co-author Dr. Christophe Barbraud of CNRS.

Related: Short-tailed albatross parents adopt an unlikely baby

Additional population growth monitoring may provide animal experts with the insight they need for planning strategic conservation techniques.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
FEB 09, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
FEB 09, 2021
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
Many ocean species use sound to communicate and survive. Sound is a crucial communication method since vision is limited ...
FEB 25, 2021
Plants & Animals
Do Fish Have Personality?
FEB 25, 2021
Do Fish Have Personality?
Fish may seem to just swim around without much thought or character. But new research reported in Ecology and Evolution ...
MAR 26, 2021
Plants & Animals
A Massive 17-Year Cicada Swarm will Emerge Soon
MAR 26, 2021
A Massive 17-Year Cicada Swarm will Emerge Soon
The east coast is preparing for one of nature’s greatest spectacles. A gigantic swarm of periodical cicadas is due ...
APR 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Celebrating National Pet Day
APR 09, 2021
Celebrating National Pet Day
Sunday, April 11, is National Pet Day! From pandemic companions to viral videos, pets are a huge part of our lives. Even ...
JUN 01, 2021
Plants & Animals
Galapagos Animals and Beaches Are Polluted with Plastic
JUN 01, 2021
Galapagos Animals and Beaches Are Polluted with Plastic
Plastic pollution, from the great pacific garbage patch to plastic showing up in the food chain, is known to be a major ...
JUN 03, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Why did all the sharks die?
JUN 03, 2021
Why did all the sharks die?
New research published in the journal Science reports on the discovery of a massive shark die-off - nearly 19 million ye ...
Loading Comments...