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The relationship between sea surface temperature and population change of Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo breeding near Disko Bay, Greenland

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Arctic seas have warmed and sea ice has retreated. This has resulted in range contraction and population declines in some species, but it could potentially be a boon for others. Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo have a partially wettable plumage and seem poorly suited to foraging in Arctic waters. We show that rates of population change of Cormorant colonies around Disko Bay, Greenland, are positively correlated with sea surface temperature, suggesting that they may benefit from a warming Arctic. However, although Cormorant populations may increase in response to Arctic warming, the extent of expansion of their winter range may ultimately be limited by other factors, such as sensory constraints on foraging behaviour during long Arctic nights.

Keywords: Arctic warming; Phalacrocorax; climate change; diving; thermoregulation; vision

Document Type: Short Communication


Affiliations: 1: National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, PO Box 358, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark 2: Centre for Ornithology, School of Biosciences, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston,Birmingham B15 2TT, UK 3: School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L69 7ZB, UK

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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