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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 454:251-261 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09723

Climate change, heightened hurricane activity, and extinction risk for an endangered tropical seabird, the black-capped petrel Pterodroma hasitata

T. Hass1,*, J. Hyman2, B. X. Semmens3

1Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-3010, USA
2Department of Biology, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina 28723, USA
3Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, San Diego, California 92121-2460, USA
*Email:

ABSTRACT: The destructiveness of major (Category 3 to 5) hurricanes along the United States Atlantic Ocean seaboard has been recognized for centuries. While the effects of hurricanes on coastal ecosystems are well known, the influence of hurricanes on pelagic seabirds is difficult to assess. During the annual Atlantic hurricane season (~1 June to 30 November), the endangered black-capped petrel Pterodroma hasitata aggregates in Gulf Stream habitats from Florida to North Carolina. On at least 8 occasions over the past century, hurricanes have driven petrels far inland (sometimes as far as the Great Lakes), suggesting the demise of 10s to 100s of individuals. This paper models >100 yr of data to characterize and compare key aspects of hurricanes that did and did not drive petrels inland. Our model suggests that the predicted increase in the frequency of Category 3 to 5 hurricanes in the region due to climate change could nearly double the expected number of wrecked petrels over the next century and place an endangered species at greater risk of extinction.


KEY WORDS: Petrel · Hurricane · Gulf Stream · Climate change · Mortality · Wreck · North Atlantic


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Cite this article as: Hass T, Hyman J, Semmens BX (2012) Climate change, heightened hurricane activity, and extinction risk for an endangered tropical seabird, the black-capped petrel Pterodroma hasitata. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 454:251-261. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09723

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