Linking Foraging Behaviors to Demography to understand Albatrosses Population Responses to Climate Change
Understanding the ecological consequences - present and future-of climate change is a central question in conservation biology. The goal of this project is to identify the effects of climate change on the Black-Browed Albatross, a seabird breeding in the Southern Ocean. The Black-Browed Albatross exhibits remarkable flight adaptations, using winds as an energy source to glide for long distances. This is the basis of their foraging strategy, by which they obtain food for themselves and their offspring. Climate change, however, is expected to modify wind patterns over the Southern Ocean. This project will analyze the effect of winds on life history traits (foraging behaviors, body conditions and demographic traits), and the effects of these traits on populations. New demographic models will provide the link between foraging behavior and the physical environment, and evaluate the persistence of this population in the face of climate change. Understanding and predicting population responses to climate change is important because the world?s climate will continue to change throughout the 21st century and beyond. To help guide conservation strategies and policy decisions in the face of climate change, reliable assessments of population extinction risks are urgently needed. The Black-Browed Albatross is considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to recent drastic reductions in its population size. This project will improve our understanding of the mechanisms by which climate affects the life history and populations of Black-Browed Albatross to improve prediction of extinction risks under future climate change.