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Habitat foraging niche of a High Arctic zooplanktivorous seabird in a changing environment.


ABSTRACT: Here, we model current and future distribution of a foraging Arctic endemic species, the little auk (Alle alle), a small zooplanktivorous Arctic seabird. We characterized environmental conditions [sea depth, sea surface temperature (SST), marginal sea ice zone (MIZ)] at foraging positions of GPS-tracked individuals from three breeding colonies in Svalbard: one located at the southern rim of the Arctic zone (hereafter 'boreo-Arctic') and two in the high-Arctic zone on Spitsbergen ('high-Arctic'). The birds from one 'high-Arctic' colony, influenced by cold Arctic water, foraged in the shallow shelf zone near the colony. The birds from remaining colonies foraged in a wider range of depths, in a higher SST zone ('boreo-Arctic') or in the productive but distant MIZ (second 'high-Arctic' colony). Given this flexible foraging behaviour, little auks may be temporarily resilient to moderate climate changes. However, our fuzzy logic models of future distribution under scenarios of 1?°C and 2?°C SST increase predict losses of suitable foraging habitat for the majority of little auk colonies studied. Over longer time scales negative consequences of global warming are inevitable. The actual response of little auks to future environmental conditions will depend on the range of their plasticity and pace of ecosystem changes.

SUBMITTER: Jakubas D 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5701252 | BioStudies | 2017-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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