MEPS - Vol. 563 - FEATURE ARTICLE

Decline of adult Brünnich’s guillemot (Uria lomvia) in Svalbard is associated with the weakening of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre. Photo: Julie Fluhr.

Fluhr J, Strøm H, Pradel R, Duriez O, Beaugrand G, Descamps S

 

Weakening of the subpolar gyre as a key driver of North Atlantic seabird demography: a case study with Brünnich’s guillemots in Svalbard

The Brünnich’s guillemot (Uria lomvia) is an example of a long-lived Arctic seabird species that is highly sensitive to environmental changes. Guillemot colonies in Svalbard have significantly declined since the mid-1990s. This decline coincided with the occurrence of an abrupt ecosystem shift in the North Atlantic Ocean and the weakening of the Atlantic subpolar gyre. Fluhr and colleagues show that variations in the Subpolar Gyre Index (SGI) were significantly associated with inter-annual variation in guillemot annual survival, and that years characterized by a weak gyre were associated with low adult survival. These results suggest that SGI may be an important global proxy to assess oceanographic conditions and changes in marine ecosystems in the North Atlantic.

 

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