Antarctic seabirds as indicators of climate change
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are among the world´s regions that have been most impacted by climate change. This chapter provides an overview of the latest scientific evidence of climate change in the Antarctic region in terms of both physical and biological elements, with a special focus on Antarctic seabirds. Analyses of long-term datasets indicate that some regions of Antarctica are warming rapidly, the Southern Ocean is becoming fresher and more acidic, the area of cold water is shrinking in size because of southward shifts of oceanic fronts, and there is increasing variability in sea-ice extent and atmospheric conditions. Long-term studies on Antarctic seabirds have noted changes in terms of their diet, distribution and population dynamics. Such impacts may lead to a shift in foraging or breeding distributions, behavioural or other adaptations or the decline or extirpation of a particular population. Development of strategies and policies for the conservation of Antarctic seabirds requires expansion of monitoring programs and more research on the consequences and pace of climatic change, particularly in relation to other threats from fisheries (competition and bycatch in fishing gear), disease, pollutants and invasive alien species at breeding sites.
Authors: Xavier, José C. ORCID record for José C. Xavier, Phillips, Richard A., Takahashi, Akinori