Observed and predicted effects of climate on Australian seabirds
Chambers, LE and Devney, CA and Congdon, BC and Dunlop, N and Woehler, E and Dann, P, Observed and predicted effects of climate on Australian seabirds, Emu: Austral Ornithology, 111, (3) pp. 235-251. ISSN 0158-4197 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Although there is growing evidence of climate warming, for many regions the broader effects of climate
variation on marine top predators remains unknown owing to the difﬁculty in obtaining, for synthesis, long-term and short-
term datasets on multiple species. In the Australian region, climatic and oceanographic variability and change have been
shown to affect marine species, often with profound consequences. Many seabirds are apex predators for which changes in
climatic and oceanic dynamics have driven range movements poleward, reduced breeding success and altered breeding
timing for some species. Here we review the literature to assess and determine the vulnerability of Australian seabirds to
variation and change in climate and identify which species and ecosystems may be more resilient to future climate warming.
It is clear from this synthesis that not all Australian seabirds are affected similarly, with responses varying by species and
location. In addition, the paucity of information on the distribution and biology of seabird prey, foraging patterns and
movements of seabirds, and the ability of seabirds to switch between prey species or adjust timing of life-cycles make
generalisations about potential effects of future climate change and adaptive capacity in seabirds difﬁcult. This applies both
within Australia and elsewhere, where data are similarly sparse.