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Changes in Wind Pattern Alter Albatross Distribution and Life-History Traits

Science  13 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6065, pp. 211-214
DOI: 10.1126/science.1210270

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Abstract

Westerly winds in the Southern Ocean have increased in intensity and moved poleward. Using long-term demographic and foraging records, we show that foraging range in wandering albatrosses has shifted poleward in conjunction with these changes in wind pattern, while their rates of travel and flight speeds have increased. Consequently, the duration of foraging trips has decreased, breeding success has improved, and birds have increased in mass by more than 1 kilogram. These positive consequences of climate change may be temporary if patterns of wind in the southern westerlies follow predicted climate change scenarios. This study stresses the importance of foraging performance as the key link between environmental changes and population processes.

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