The Impacts of Climate-Driven Environmental Variability on North Pacific Albatrosses

This research uses telemetry data, colony-based metrics and satellite data of environmental varibles to examine how climate-driven environmental variability influences Laysan (Phoebastria immutabilis) and Black-footed albatrosses (Phoebastria nigripes). Our recent and ongoing research focuses on the following overarching questions:

 

  1. How is environmental change influencing the foraging habitat of North Pacific albatrosses, and what are the implications for population processes? Specifically, we are examining how climate variability influences oceanographic change in the North Pacific, and how this in turn influences foraging behavior and, ultimately, reproductive success in Laysan and Black-footed albatrosses. We are particularly interested in how movement constraints (e.g., during brooding, when parents must return to the nest site frequently to feed rapidly-growing chicks) influence susceptibility to oceanographic change; and
  1. How are wind patterns in the North Pacific affected by climate-driven environmental change, and how does this influence habitat accessibility and energetic budgets of albatrosses? Albatrosses are wind-dependent species whose foraging strategy depends on winds to cover large expanses of ocean at low energetic costs. Thus, changes in wind patterns have important implications for where albatrosses go and the energetic costs of travel. We are examining how El-Niño-driven changes in wind patterns influence albatross movement and cost of travel, and how this relates to observed trends in reproductive success.
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