Global phenological insensitivity to shifting ocean temperatures among seabirds

Author(s): Katharine Keogan, Francis Daunt, Sarah Wanless, Richard A. Phillips, Craig A. Walling, Philippa Agnew, David G. Ainley, Tycho Anker-Nilssen, Grant Ballard, Robert T. Barrett, Kerry J. Barton, Claus Bech, Peter Becker, Per-Arvid Berglund, Loïc Bollache, Alexander L. Bond, Sandra Bouwhuis, Russell W. Bradley, Zofia M. Burr, Kees Camphuysen, Paulo Catry, Andre Chiaradia, Signe Christensen-Dalsgaard, Richard Cuthbert, Nina Dehnhard, Sébastien Descamps, Tony Diamond, George Divoky, Hugh Drummond, Katie M. Dugger, Michael J. Dunn, Louise Emmerson, Kjell Einar Erikstad, Jérôme Fort, William Fraser, Meritxell Genovart, Olivier Gilg, Jacob González-Solís, José Pedro Granadeiro, David Grémillet, Jannik Hansen, Sveinn A. Hanssen, Mike Harris, April Hedd, Jefferson Hinke, José Manuel Igual, Jaime Jahncke, Ian Jones, Peter J. Kappes, Johannes Lang, Magdalene Langset, Amélie Lescroël, Svein-Håkon Lorentsen, Phil O’B. Lyver, Mark Mallory, Børge Moe, William A. Montevecchi, David Monticelli, Carolyn Mostello, Mark Newell, Lisa Nicholson, Ian Nisbet, Olof Olsson, Daniel Oro, Vivian Pattison, Maud Poisbleau, Tanya Pyk, Flavio Quintana, Jaime A. Ramos, Raül Ramos, Tone Kirstin Reiertsen, Cristina Rodríguez, Peter Ryan, Ana Sanz-Aguilar, Niels M. Schmidt, Paula Shannon, Benoit Sittler, Colin Southwell, Christopher Surman, Walter S. Svagelj, Wayne Trivelpiece, Pete Warzybok, Yutaka Watanuki, Henri Weimerskirch, Peter R. Wilson, Andrew G. Wood, Albert B. Phillimore & Sue Lewis
In: Nature Climate Change
Year: 2018
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Marine
Link to centre authors: Olsson, Olof
Full reference: Keogan K, Daunt F,… Olsson. O,… et al. 2018. Global phenological insensitivity to shifting ocean temperatures among seabirds. - Nature Climate Change 8:313-318. 10.1038/s41558-018-0115-z


Reproductive timing in many taxa plays a key role in determining breeding productivity, and is often sensitive to climatic conditions. Current climate change may alter the timing of breeding at different rates across trophic levels, potentially resulting in temporal mismatch between the resource requirements of predators and their prey. This is of particular concern for higher-trophic-level organisms, whose longer generation times confer a lower rate of evolutionary rescue than primary producers or consumers. However, the disconnection between studies of ecological change in marine systems makes it difficult to detect general changes in the timing of reproduction.

Here, we use a comprehensive meta-analysis of 209 phenological time series from 145 breeding populations to show that, on average, seabird populations worldwide have not adjusted their breeding seasons over time (−0.020 days yr−1) or in response to sea surface temperature (SST) (−0.272 days °C−1) between 1952 and 2015. However, marked between-year variation in timing observed in resident species and some Pelecaniformes and Suliformes (cormorants, gannets and boobies) may imply that timing, in some cases, is affected by unmeasured environmental conditions. This limited temperature-mediated plasticity of reproductive timing in seabirds potentially makes these top predators highly vulnerable to future mismatch with lower-trophic-level resources.


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