Beneficial climate change for Albatros

2012/02/01 Roa Zubia, Guillermo - Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

They conclude that climate change has benefited the diomedea exulans albatrosa. Ed. Maite Louzao

In recent decades, wind models have changed in the southwest of the Indian Ocean and, according to a study conducted in Kerguel and Crozet Islands, this has favoured the possibility of proliferation of Diomedea exulans albatros. This is a special case because experts believe that winds have changed as a result of climate change and, in that case, benefited the albatrosses. “The winds are stronger, but not only that, but they have also changed places,” says Gipuzkoan marine scientist Maite Louzao, one of the researchers. These changes have affected the reproduction of albatrosses. While the eggs are in the nest, Father Albatros and mother take care alternately. The one left in the nest does not eat and the other flies in search of food. But if the trip is too long, whoever is in the nest has to leave the nest and eat. Experts have measured that the duration of food travel in the last 40 years has been reduced due to the change of wind, from 12 to 10 days on average. As a result, the caregiver has less to go for food and leave only the egg, so the number of neglected eggs is reduced. In addition, the stays of nest keepers have been shortened, decreasing weight at that time. “The females, during their reproduction, move mostly around the colony and head north. And the males walk around the colony and head south. Those of both sexes go on either side,” explains Louzao.

The latest data have been collected for months on the island of Kerguel, where electronic devices were installed to the albatrosses and the travel details were recorded. But older data have also been analyzed to measure the impact of climate change. In fact, the results published in the journal Science are based on the data obtained since 1966. “There’s not much research with a 40-year data series,” says Louzao.

Maite Louzao told the radio program Norteko Ferrokarrilla the details of the investigation and we will publish the interview with her in the March issue of the magazine Elhuyar.

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