Impact of climate changes on Southern Fulmar 


There is now ample evidence of the ecological impacts of recent climate change in marine ecosystems. Seabirds are relying entirely on the ocean environment to feed and are good bio-indicator species of the ecological consequences of climate change on marine ecosystems.

In polar ecosystems, the sea ice environment is a critical habitat for many seabirds because it influences the entire food web and provides a platform for resting, molting, feeding and breeding. Therefore, the life history of Antarctic seabirds is tied to sea ice, and several studies have shown strong population responses to change in the sea ice environment. Climate model simulations developed in the fourth assessment report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) project that Antarctic sea ice will shrink dramatically by the end of the century. Such changes will almost certainly affect sea-ice dependent species.

While previous work has provided insight into the role of climate change for some seabirds, considerable uncertainty remains due to limited understanding of some of the climate-species linkages. The aim of this proposal is to include a more detailed representation of the processes by which sea ice affects the demography of an Antarctic seabird, the southern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialoides). We are particularly interested in the processes by which seabirds acquire resources (i.e. foraging behavior and efficiency) and allocate their energetic resources (i.e. food load) between breeding, survivorship and growth.  We will link these processes with a dynamic population model which incorporates contrasting sea ice conditions for different years.

This project is funded by the Ocean Life Institute of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, click here to download OLI Annual report 2011.pdf where our research is featured.

Collaborators: Henri Weimerskirch and Julie Kellner

Guest students: Lorelei Guery and Julien Collet

Communications: We presented our work at the 97th Annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in 2012:

Linking foraging behaviours to demography to study a seabird population response to climate change”  presented by Stéphanie Jenouvrier

Impact of climate changes on an Antarctic seabird: Role of individual quality” presented by Lorelei Guery

Publications: Jenouvrier S. 2013. Impacts of climate change on avian populations. Global Change Biology, 19 pp: 2036- 2057


Picture of the southern fulmar colony at Terre Adélie, Antarctica