Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Climate change blamed as birds fail to breed

Expand Messages
  • Mike Neuman
    Thu 1 Sep 2005 Climate change blamed as birds fail to breed JAMES REYNOLDS ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT SEABIRDS have suffered an appalling breeding season around
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2005
      Thu 1 Sep 2005

      Climate change blamed as birds fail to breed

      JAMES REYNOLDS
      ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT

      SEABIRDS have suffered an appalling breeding season around much of
      Scotland's coast, research from three of the country's leading
      conservation organisations has shown.

      Drastic reductions in the number of sand eels, the staple food source
      of many birds, has caused major failures of certain species.

      Experts on reserves run by the Royal Society for the Protection of
      Birds (RSPB), National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and Scottish Wildlife
      Trust say the problem has spread this year to western reserves such
      as those on Tiree, St Kilda and Canna.

      Guillemots, razorbills and Arctic tern have been hard hit, with the
      most recent survey on Tiree showing only four guillemot chicks at
      Ceann a' Mhara, from a total of 2,173 birds. In a normal year, there
      would be about 1,500 chicks in this colony.

      On St Kilda, owned and run by the NTS, there was a spectacular
      breeding failure for puffins, with only 26 per cent of burrows
      producing chicks, compared with a normal figure of 71 per cent.
      The kittiwake colony on Canna was another notable casualty, with
      barely five chicks fledged out of a population of 1,000 pairs.
      For the first time, conservation groups believe climate change may be
      a significant factor in the lack of breeding success, as it has a
      major influence on Scotland's sea systems and, consequently, on the
      birds' prey.

      In broad terms, it seems the species that nest early, such as certain
      types of gull, fared best, and those that breed later, such as
      kittiwakes, Arctic terns, guillemots, razorbills and puffins, fared
      worst. This year the shortage of sand eels has forced some species to
      find alternative food sources, including juvenile white fish, such as
      pollock, which are less nutritious for chicks.

      Stuart Housden, the director of RSPB Scotland, said: "We need to
      monitor closely their feeding habits to see what effect this has on
      their breeding success in future. This is the first time the west has
      been affected and we can only speculate as to why, but climate change
      must be considered as a factor."

      He went on: "Seabirds are excellent barometers of the state of the
      marine environment, and we must do all we can to conserve these
      iconic species."

      Richard Luxmoore, the head of nature conservation at the NTS,
      said: "Scotland has around 45 per cent of all the seabirds in the EU
      nesting on its coasts and we have an international responsibility to
      care for them."

      This article:

      http://www.scotsman.com/?id=1873032005
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.