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Puffins with longer migrations have trouble breeding

Cara J

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With their bright beaks and crescent-shaped eyes, puffins are adored by animal lovers, but the pint-sized seabirds have been something of a mystery to scientists. GPS trackers have been too heavy to attach to their tiny bodies, making it hard for biologists to monitor their flights and know where these declining birds head for the winter. Using hi-tech geolocators weighing less than two grams, an international team finally tracked puffin migration across their North Atlantic range, allowing them to pinpoint hotspots for conservation. They discovered that puffins migrating farther didn’t breed as well as those traveling shorter distances. “We found a direct link between migration in the winter and breeding success,” said Annette Fayet, first author on the study published in Current Biology. “That’s important because it shows you have to look at the whole picture — the whole year — for the conservation of migratory species.” In recent decades, Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica) have dwindled as much as 70 percent from what used to be millions of breeding pairs, especially in Iceland and Norway, where their largest populations nest. They’re endangered in Europe and vulnerable in North America, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. A [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/puffins-with-longer-migrations-have-trouble-breeding/

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