Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Antarctic albatross displays shift in breeding habits

Date:
April 30, 2012
Source:
British Antarctic Survey
Summary:
A new study of the wandering albatross -- one of the largest birds on Earth -- has shown that some of the birds are breeding earlier in the season compared with 30 years ago.

Wandering albatross pair, nesting on Bird Island, South Georgia.
Credit: Image courtesy of British Antarctic Survey

A new study of the wandering albatross -- one of the largest birds on Earth -- has shown that some of the birds are breeding earlier in the season compared with 30 years ago.

Reporting online this month (April) in the journal Oikos, a British team of scientists describe how they studied the breeding habits of the wandering albatross on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. They have discovered that because some birds are now laying their eggs earlier, the laying date for the population is an average of 2.2 days earlier than before.

The researchers say the reasons for this change are unclear. Lead author Dr Sue Lewis at the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences said, "Our results are surprising. Every year we can determine when the birds return to the island after migration, and the exact day they lay their egg. We knew that some birds were laying earlier -- those who were older or had recently changed partner -- but now we see that those which haven't bred successfully in the past are also laying earlier, and these birds are effectively driving this trend in earlier laying."

The researchers studied over 30 years of data from birds located near the British Antarctic Survey's research station on Bird Island (part of South Georgia). Nest sites were monitored daily during the pre-laying, laying, hatching and fledging periods to document breeding patterns.

Numbers of wandering albatrosses on South Georgia have been steadily declining largely because the birds swallow baited hooks on longlines set by fishing vessels, and are dragged under and drown. Despite a recent increase in breeding success over the last 20 years, the number of birds at Bird Island has fallen by over 50% since the 1960s, from 1700 to only 800 breeding pairs.

British Antarctic Survey bird ecologist Dr Richard Phillips, also an author on the paper said, "This work is important for understanding more about the behaviour of these charismatic and threatened birds. In the Indian Ocean, an increase in the intensity of westerly winds has resulted in a shift in feeding distribution of wandering albatrosses. It is possible that earlier breeding in some females at South Georgia is a consequence of environmental change, but at the moment we are not sure if this is related to weather, a change in oceanographic conditions or food availability to which only some birds are responding."

This research is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and British Antarctic Survey and was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by British Antarctic Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sue Lewis, Daniel H. Nussey, Andrew G. Wood, John P. Croxall, Richard A. Phillips. Intrinsic determinants of a population trend in timing of breeding in the wandering albatross. Oikos, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2012.20293.x

Cite This Page:

British Antarctic Survey. "Antarctic albatross displays shift in breeding habits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430101028.htm>.
British Antarctic Survey. (2012, April 30). Antarctic albatross displays shift in breeding habits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430101028.htm
British Antarctic Survey. "Antarctic albatross displays shift in breeding habits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430101028.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins