Rising sea temperatures threaten populations of Atlantic Bulwer’s fins

General Environmental Science (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157352″ width=”800″ height=”395″/>

Graphic abstract. Credit: General Environmental Science (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157352

The effects of rising sea temperatures predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could affect the survival of North Atlantic populations of the Bulwer’s grebe in the Azores, Canary Islands and Cape Verde, according to a study by Seabird Ecology. Group of the Faculty of Biology and Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) of the University of Barcelona.

Seabirds in Cape Verde will be most vulnerable to new climate conditions, according to the study. General Environmental Science.

The bulwark (Bulweria bulwerii) is a pelagic seabird of the Procellariidae family that feeds on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. In the Atlantic, the species nests in the Macaroni Archipelago, especially on coastal rocks, small islands and sea cliffs. About half of the specimens from the Azores and Canary Islands migrate to the South Atlantic, while the remaining individuals from these archipelagos and all birds from Cape Verde spend the breeding season in the central Atlantic.

The study analyzes the impact of climate change on these seabird populations in temperate or tropical areas. “The effects of climate change are always predicted to be severe in polar environments, so most demographic studies of seabirds have favored sampling in the Arctic or Antarctic regions,” said Raúl Ramos, a lecturer in the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences. UB and IRBio.

“Our study provides an opportunity to verify that the effects of climate change will undoubtedly affect not only species at polar latitudes, but also other species restricted to more tropical environments.”

The population of Cape Verde: the most vulnerable

The article analyzes the potential effects of several factors—sea temperature rise, the North Atlantic Oscillation Index, the Southern Oscillation Index, and wind—on the North Atlantic population. The study found that rising sea surface temperatures are the most detrimental factor affecting the survival of adults of three different populations of Bulwer’s fin.

“Sea warming is expected to affect seabirds indirectly, but with components common to all three populations. In other words, it is not that birds suffer more or less cold due to climate change, but that these negative effects work through the trophic chain. Thus, temperature is the main driver of Bulwer’s feathers. can alter the population density of potential bird prey by affecting the productivity or abundance of nutrients and plankton in feeding areas,” notes researcher Marta Cruz-Flores (UB-IRBio). to learn.

Considering the IPCC projections (2090-2100), the tropical population of Cape Verde will be the most affected by rising sea temperatures, which can be explained by a combination of several factors. “The first factor, perhaps the most relevant, is that tropical regions are the areas where the IPCC models predict the sharpest temperature increase in any of the scenarios studied (2090-2100),” said Professor Jacob González-Solís, head of Seabird’s UB Ecology Group.

“Secondly, this population has the narrowest temperature range in which feathers live – they are used to a more stable temperature range – and any increase in temperature can further disturb them. Finally, the tropical Cape Verdean population is resident in nature — much more so than other subtropical and temperate populations of the species. migrate short distances and therefore individuals are exposed to the same habitat and environmental conditions throughout the year.”

How will the Bulwer plume adapt to climate change?

In a future scenario, climate change mitigation capabilities of Bulwer’s bird may focus on the species’ plasticity in foraging strategies (e.g. translocation areas) and adaptation of migration routes.

“Seabirds are very long-lived species and can live between 15 and 50 years, depending on the species. Therefore, when faced with any relatively drastic environmental change, for example, adults prioritize individual survival over reproductive effort. So, despite our research , predicts a severe impact of climate change on species survival, we can expect the individual plasticity of these species to allow individuals to adapt to changes to reduce the impact of climate impacts on their populations,” said Raúl Ramos.

Climate change is not the only threat to species conservation worldwide. In fact, species conservation problems are only worse on land where seabirds breed.

“Introduction or presence of terrestrial predators—rats, cats, etc.—that prey on eggs, chicks, or even adults, endangering bird populations in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Holes where adults can lay eggs, incubate, and feed their young— in several uninhabited islets and islands living in the areas where the species is distributed”, experts note.

A global threat to seabirds

Other seabirds in tropical and subtropical ocean environments may also be affected by the indirect temperature effects described in this article. Examples include petrels, shearwaters, and other birds native to the Caribbean or the Macaroni Archipelago.

In this context, the paper highlights the relevance of metapopulation studies, which combine data and information from different populations of the same species, to understand demographic processes on a global scale. Demographic studies focused on a specific population, while having great scientific value, are often ineffective in analyzing trends and threats affecting a species in a particular location when in fact it is widespread.

“Therefore, despite being more expensive at the economic, logistical, temporal and personal levels, metapopulation studies like the one we have just published are crucial for understanding how species interact with their environment and thus predicting their adaptation strategies to the challenge of climate change,” – teacher Raul Ramos concludes.

Deciphering the migration pattern of the smallest seabird in the Mediterranean

Marta Cruz-Flores et al, Will climate change affect the survival of tropical and subtropical species? Projections based on populations of Bulwer’s mullet in the North Atlantic Ocean, General Environmental Science (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157352

Provided by the University of Barcelona

Quote: Rising sea temperatures threaten Bulwer’s fin populations in the Atlantic (2022, September 21) https://phys.org/news/2022-09-sea-temperatures-threaten-atlantic-populations.html

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