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Over more than a century, seabirds have changed prey

Cara J

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Seabirds in Hawaii have changed their prey preference over the last 125 years, according to new research, suggesting that more birds are consuming squid rather than fish. This shift to eating species that are lower on the food chain can provide more information about the ocean ecosystem, researchers said. Instead of using drones or water samples to study the waters, researchers are using museum specimens to gather a historical record of what is being eaten. “Birds can live for quite a while, and as they operate throughout their environment, they can make decisions about prey items they’re going to eat,” said Tyler Gagne, an assistant research scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium and lead author of the recent study published Science Advances. Unlike drones or water buoys that can collect satellite data, Gagne said, using information collected from museum bird specimens allowed him to go back in history to determine what seabirds were consuming over time. In the study, the research team collected data from specimens of North Pacific seabird species from the Bishop Museum in Hawaii: the Laysan’s albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), Bulwer’s petrel (Bulweria bulwerii), wedge-tailed shearwater (Puffinus pacificus), white-tailed tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus), brown booby (Sula leucogaster), brown noddy (Anous [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/over-more-than-a-century-seabirds-have-changed-prey/

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