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Hemispheric Asymmetry in Ocean Change and the Productivity of Ecosystem Sentinels

Sydeman, W.J., D.S. Schoeman, S.A. Thompson, B.A. Hoover, M. GarcĂ­a-Reyes, F. Daunt, P. Agnew, T. Anker-Nilssen, C. Barbraud, R. Barrett, P.H. Becker, E. Bell, P.D. Boersma, S. Bouwhuis, B. Cannell, R.J.M. Crawford, P. Dann, K. Delord, G. Elliott, K.E. Erikstad, E. Flint, R.W. Furness, M.P. Harris, S. Hatch, K. Hilwig, J.T. Hinke, J. Jahncke, J.A. Mills, T.K. Reiertsen, H. Renner, R.B. Sherley, C. Surman, G. Taylor, J.A. Thayer, P.N. Trathan, E. Velarde, K. Walker, S. Wanless, P. Warzybok, and Y. Watanuki (May 2021)

Science 372(6545):980-953

DOI: 10.1126/science.abf1772


Climate change and other human activities are causing profound effects on marine ecosystem productivity. We show that the breeding success of seabirds is tracking hemispheric differences in ocean warming and human impacts, with the strongest effects on fish-eating, surface-foraging species in the north. Hemispheric asymmetry suggests the need for ocean management at hemispheric scales. For the north, tactical, climate-based recovery plans for forage fish resources are needed to recover seabird breeding productivity. In the south, lower-magnitude change in seabird productivity presents opportunities for strategic management approaches such as large marine protected areas to sustain food webs and maintain predator productivity. Global monitoring of seabird productivity enables the detection of ecosystem change in remote regions and contributes to our understanding of marine climate impacts on ecosystems.


Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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