Climate change has been said to affect a number of different factors of our environment and now the claims have grown to include Wandering albatrosses.
Seabird Foraging Changes:
The claim has been made based on data that biologists have collected over the last 40 years that looks at the foraging trips and breeding success that the birds have taken part in. The results show that the albatrosses have most certainly changed their behavior and are actually flying further due to increased wind speeds which have increased the speed that they fly. This means that they spend less time foraging and have actually gained an average of a kilogram in weight. Their breeding success has also improved with these changes as well.
At the moment these changes are positive but if things continue to change and predictions are correct then these changes could soon become negative quite quickly.
The birds were tracked using tiny tracking devices that allowed the researchers to follow the birds wherever they went as far as 3500km away. The data showed that the birds have changed how and where they search for food and mates in accordance with how wind patterns have changed. This meant that the speed at which they travel has increased meaning although they still travel the same distance, meaning that they spend less time at sea and more time incubating their eggs and breeding, hence the increased breeding success.
The change in wind patterns has been a good thing for albatrosses so far. However, predictions show that westerly winds will move further south by 2080 and this could mean that the birds need to fly much further in order to find suitable flying conditions.
It is estimated that there are around eight thousand breeding pairs of albatrosses at present. The main threats are the introduction of alien species like rats and cats, damage to their environment and incidental catch.
This research has shown the first real map that shows the habits of albatrosses and how they have evolved with changing conditions. The albatross actually sits at the top of its food chain and has no natural predator; therefore it is the climate changes, environmental changes and man himself that poses the big threats to this huge bird that has a wingspan of well over three meters.
The tracking and data will continue to be used in order to track continuing changes and the effects caused by climate change.
Keith Barrett takes a keen interest in a wide variety of environmental issues. He also writes occasional articles for a number of respected environmental news websites.