Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Warming temperatures put tufted puffin at risk

15.07.2003


Warmer ocean temperatures may be harming reproduction of the tufted puffin in western Canada and if global temperatures continue to increase, the species could be at risk, says a new study co-authored by a University of Alberta researcher.



Throughout the last two decades, uncharacteristically warm sea-surfaces have persisted near Triangle Island--off the coast of British Columbia--a haven for these birds. Researchers have been studying the reproductive performance of tufted puffins there since 1975. For years this seabird, but not others, had frequent reproductive failures--seasons when no chicks were reared and researchers did not know why.

The study, published in the current edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, found that there is a direct relationship between the puffins’ breeding success and temperature.


"They raise few chicks when sea surface temperatures are either unusually cold, as they were in the 70s, or especially when they are unusually warm, as they were through most of the 1990s," said author Colleen Cassady St. Clair, a behavioural ecologist from the Faculty of Science. She shared research duties with Carina Gjerdrum--a master’s-level graduate from Simon Fraser University and the lead author on the paper--Douglas Bertram, now with Environment Canada and John Ryder and Gwylim Blackburn from Simon Fraser University. Another author Anne Vallée, died 21 years ago after a fall she endured while studying the puffins.

The researchers speculate that the biggest reason for these reproductive changes are due to the puffins’ prey, which are small fish and mainly a small anchovy-like species called sand lance. "It appears that these fish leave areas with warm water," said St. Clair. "When this warm water surrounds the breeding colonies, the puffins can’t catch fish. The adults then appear to abandon their chicks under these conditions, perhaps so that they can forage farther offshore and the chicks are left to starve."

If these warm temperatures were to continue or to increase in frequency, it is likely that puffins would experience more and more frequent reproductive failures. A prolonged lack of recruitment of new birds to this population would eventually mean that puffins would no longer occur on this island, which is the only place in Canada where they currently occur in significant numbers (estimated to be more than 50,000 pairs).

Because of a natural variation in ocean climates, the last few four years have been relatively cool, but so far this year, temperatures appear to be closer to the warm period during the mid 90s.

St. Clair said that it is certain that human activities are contributing to the global warming. "The first thing we can do as a society is be aware of how important seemingly small differences in the environment may be to other organisms," she said. "I think most of us have some awareness of how our daily activities can contribute to greenhouse gases, and hence climate change. So we might think about tufted puffins on remote windswept islands the next time we stand before the thermostat or gas pump."

Phoebe Dey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht A Rescue Plan for the Ocean
16.08.2019 | Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V.

nachricht Burst Hope: No chance for environment-relieving plastic decomposition by bacteria
07.08.2019 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

Im Focus: Vehicle Emissions: New sensor technology to improve air quality in cities

Researchers at TU Graz are working together with European partners on new possibilities of measuring vehicle emissions.

Today, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing European cities. As part of the Horizon 2020 research project CARES (City Air Remote Emission...

Im Focus: Self healing robots that "feel pain"

Over the next three years, researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Cambridge, École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris (ESPCI-Paris) and Empa will be working together with the Dutch Polymer manufacturer SupraPolix on the next generation of robots: (soft) robots that ‘feel pain’ and heal themselves. The partners can count on 3 million Euro in support from the European Commission.

Soon robots will not only be found in factories and laboratories, but will be assisting us in our immediate environment. They will help us in the household, to...

Im Focus: Scientists create the world's thinnest gold

Scientists at the University of Leeds have created a new form of gold which is just two atoms thick - the thinnest unsupported gold ever created.

The researchers measured the thickness of the gold to be 0.47 nanometres - that is one million times thinner than a human finger nail. The material is regarded...

Im Focus: Study on attosecond timescale casts new light on electron dynamics in transition metals

An international team of scientists involving the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has unraveled the light-induced electron-localization dynamics in transition metals at the attosecond timescale. The team investigated for the first time the many-body electron dynamics in transition metals before thermalization sets in. Their work has now appeared in Nature Physics.

The researchers from ETH Zurich (Switzerland), the MPSD (Germany), the Center for Computational Sciences of University of Tsukuba (Japan) and the Center for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Working out why plants get sick

16.08.2019 | Life Sciences

Newfound superconductor material could be the 'silicon of quantum computers'

16.08.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Stanford develops wireless sensors that stick to the skin to track our health

16.08.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>