Climate change affects seabirds’ ability to breed

Common murres (Uria aalge) and other Northern Hemisphere seabirds have experienced declines in their ability to breed over the last 50 years. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS

Climate change and human activities are affecting the ability of seabirds in the Northern Hemisphere to breed, researchers found, and seabirds in the Southern Hemisphere may one day face similar challenges.

An international team of scientists looked at the reproductive success of 67 species of seabirds — including albatrosses, puffins, murres and penguins — over the past 50 years. They found the birds’ reproductive success decreased over the past half century in the Northern Hemisphere, which has seen greater impacts from climate change.

Researchers believe increasing occurrences of extreme weather events are forcing seabirds to travel farther for food. Overfishing and other human activities may also play a role.

Read more from the University of Washington, and read the study in Science.