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Climate change could overturn bird migration: Transarctic flights and high-latitude residency in a sea ice free Arctic.


ABSTRACT: Climate models predict that by 2050 the Arctic Ocean will be sea ice free each summer. Removing this barrier between the Atlantic and the Pacific will modify a wide range of ecological processes, including bird migration. Using published information, we identified 29 arctic-breeding seabird species, which currently migrate in the North Atlantic and could shift to a transarctic migration towards the North Pacific. We also identified 24 arctic-breeding seabird species which may shift from a migratory strategy to high-arctic year-round residency. To illustrate the biogeographical consequences of such drastic migratory shifts, we performed an in-depth study of little auks (Alle alle), the most numerous artic seabird. Coupling species distribution models and climatic models, we assessed the adequacy of future wintering and breeding areas for transarctic migrants and high-arctic year-round residents. Further, we used a mechanistic bioenergetics model (Niche Mapper), to compare the energetic costs of current little auk migration in the North Atlantic with potential transarctic and high-arctic residency strategies. Surprisingly, our results indicate that transarctic little auk migration, from the North Atlantic towards the North Pacific, may only be half as costly, energetically, than high-arctic residency or migration to the North Atlantic. Our study illustrates how global warming may radically modify the biogeography of migratory species, and provides a general methodological framework linking migratory energetics and spatial ecology.

SUBMITTER: Clairbaux M 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6883031 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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