What is it about?

Globally, seabird populations are in decline. Here, we use lake sediment records to reconstruct the long-term dynamics of an important colony of Leach’s Storm-petrels. We show that this seabird population underwent moderate natural population fluctuations until Europeans settled near the colony, after which seabird numbers were dramatically reduced.

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Why is it important?

Our approach provides data concerning shifting baselines in conservation. Use long-term data, we show that the colony is only ∼16% of the potential carrying capacity, and thus, reasonable conservation goals should be based on pre-industrialization population sizes. Before this point, the earliest available survey was from the 1980s. Likely, numerous other seabirds are also unknowingly in decline.

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This page is a summary of: Linking 19th century European settlement to the disruption of a seabird’s natural population dynamics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, December 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2016811117.
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