Bird droppings provide clues to environmental change

phys.org | 10/10/2019 | Staff
hakimi308hakimi308 (Posted by) Level 4
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Queen's University researchers John Smol and Matthew Duda have identified concerning trends in a vulnerable seabird.

Led by Queen's researchers, a collaborative research team of Canadian universities (Queen's University, University of Ottawa, Memorial University of Newfoundland) and government scientists have identified concerning trends in the population size of Leach's Storm-petrels, a vulnerable seabird that mainly lives on Baccalieu Island, 64 km north of St. John's, Nfld.

Study - Matthew - Duda - John - Smol

The study led by Matthew Duda, and co-authored by John Smol, suggests that marine wildlife, including the Leach's storm-petrel, are not only confronting a range of recent human-induced pressures, but are also responding to longer-term environmental factors.

"The seabirds act as 'environmental engineers' by depositing large volumes of nutrient-rich **** and other refuse, thereby changing the aquatic and terrestrial landscape," says Dr. Smol, a biology professor and the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change at Queen's University. "By taking sediment cores from storm-petrel impacted ponds, we can reconstruct past population trends going back centuries or millennia, where many important clues lay hidden."

Researchers - Advantage - Fact - Build - Burrow

The researchers took advantage of the fact that storm-petrels build burrow nests on islands, often around freshwater ponds. Therefore, the ponds' sediments preserve the effects of changes in the amounts of seabird fecal matter and provide a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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