Contrasting migratory responses of two closely-related seabirds to long-term climate change

Grecian, W. J., Taylor, G. A., Loh, G., McGill, R. A.R. , Miskelly, C. M., Phillips, R. A., Thompson, D. R. and Furness, R. W. (2016) Contrasting migratory responses of two closely-related seabirds to long-term climate change. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 559, pp. 231-242. (doi:10.3354/meps11875)

Grecian, W. J., Taylor, G. A., Loh, G., McGill, R. A.R. , Miskelly, C. M., Phillips, R. A., Thompson, D. R. and Furness, R. W. (2016) Contrasting migratory responses of two closely-related seabirds to long-term climate change. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 559, pp. 231-242. (doi:10.3354/meps11875)

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Abstract

Many marine predators migrate between breeding and non-breeding areas to target resources that are seasonal but spatio-temporally predictable, and so are vulnerable to climate-induced changes in prey phenology and abundance. In the Southern Ocean, small petrels are major consumers, but perturbations in the ecosystem through ocean warming are altering food-web structure and have been linked to poleward shifts in distribution of their cold-water zooplankton prey. In this study, we focus on 2 small congeneric petrels; the broad-billed prion Pachyptila vittata, and the Antarctic prion P. desolata. Both are planktivorous, but the broad-billed prion specialises in feeding on large copepods. We investigate historical trends in non-breeding distribution by analysing feather stable isotope ratios from a time-series dating back to 1926, and examine contemporary non-breeding distributions of broad-billed prions tracked using miniaturised geolocation-immersion loggers. After controlling temporally for the Suess effect, we found that the δ13C signatures of Antarctic prions, but not broad-billed prions, declined during the study period. This suggests a southward shift in Antarctic prion non-breeding distribution over the last century. Both species exhibited significant declines in δ15N during the same period, indicative of long-term decreases in marine productivity in their moulting areas, or changes in the trophic structure of prey communities. Tracked broad-billed prions migrated ca. 1000 km to an area east of the breeding colony where the Louisville seamount chain bisects the subtropical front. Topographically driven upwellings are stable and predictable features and may be crucial in aggregating plankton. Targeting seamounts could therefore mitigate the impact of climate-induced prey shifts by providing refugia for the broad-billed prion.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Grecian, Dr James and McGill, Dr Rona and Furness, Professor Robert
Authors: Grecian, W. J., Taylor, G. A., Loh, G., McGill, R. A.R., Miskelly, C. M., Phillips, R. A., Thompson, D. R., and Furness, R. W.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Marine Ecology Progress Series
Publisher:Inter Research
ISSN:0171-8630
ISSN (Online):1616-1599
Published Online:09 November 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Marine Ecology Progress Series 559:231-242
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a creative commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
567911Using stable isotopes to assess climate-change impacts on migrations of prions (Aves: Procellariiformes).Robert FurnessNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/I02237X/1RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED