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Sooty Tern deaths linked to more intense, frequent hurricanes

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Migratory seabird deaths linked to hurricanes

Posted: 11 May 2017 01:53 PM PDT

Stronger and more frequent hurricanes may pose a new threat to the sooty tern, a species of migratory seabird found throughout the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic, a new study reveals. The study is the first to map the birds’ annual migratory path and demonstrate how its timing and trajectory place them in the direct path of hurricanes moving into the Caribbean from the Atlantic. Climate change may increase the risk….

…”While it’s impossible to say just how many of the birds died as a direct result of the hurricanes, we saw a strong relationship between the numbers and locations of bird deaths and the numbers and locations of hurricanes,” said Stuart L. Pimm, the Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke’s Nicholas School.

“What’s really interesting is that it’s not just the big category 4 and 5 storms that can kill large numbers of birds. A series of smaller, weaker storms may have the same impact as that of a single large, strong storm,” Pimm noted…

Ryan M. Huang, Oron L. Bass Jr, Stuart L. Pimm. Sooty tern (Onychoprion fuscatus) survival, oil spills, shrimp fisheries, and hurricanes. PeerJ, 2017; 5: e3287 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3287

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