General Article Warming seas raise hunger threat for seabirds

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Seabirds may struggle to find food for their chicks as they are unable to shift their breeding seasons as the climate warms, a study suggests.

Rising sea temperatures in coming decades could create a mismatch between breeding periods and times when prey is most plentiful, researchers say.

The findings suggest that if prey species continue to shift their breeding seasons forward – as previous studies have shown in some regions – it could further threaten the survival of vulnerable seabirds such as puffins and albatrosses.


Breeding habits

A team from The University of Edinburgh, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the British Antarctic Survey studied data on the breeding patterns of 62 seabird species between 1952 and 2016, as sea surface temperatures rose sharply.

They found that seabirds have not altered their breeding times in response to rising temperatures. Previous research has shown however that climate change has brought forward when many prey species – including squid, s...

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