Global seabird decline greater than expected › News in Science (ABC Science)
The global seabird population may have fallen by almost 70 per cent since 1950, a new study suggests.
The study, published recently in PLOS ONE, analysed data on 162 species, representing 19 per cent of the global seabird population.
They found the population of those species had declined overall by 69.7 per cent between 1950 and 2010.
“It’s an awful lot,” says co-author ecologist Dr Edd Hammill of the University of Technology, Sydney.
“The level of decline is considerably greater than what we were expecting.”
The researchers argue this finding can be extrapolated to the global seabird population because the sample used was large and all the world’s ecosystems were represented.
“Every continent is represented, every coastline of every continent is represented as well,” says Hammill.
Hammill says a “back of the envelope” calculation suggests over a billion birds have been lost globally during the study period.
Even within the 162 species the fall in numbers is still staggering, he says.
“69 per cent equates to the loss of about 230 million birds,” says Hammill.
Previous research has focussed on particular seabird species of interest – “something’s that charismatic or catches the public’s eye”, says Hammil.
“No one has essentially tried to do the entire globe in one go and treat every single species as equal.”
The researchers compiled a database of global seabird population records, and used modelling to estimate the overall population trend.
Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/06/17/4253305.htm