The World Daily
Climate change caused decline in Scottish seabird breeding, study shows



By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | SEPTEMBER 4th 2021 


According to a recent report produced by Scottish Government agency NatureScot, the seabird breeding numbers in the country had fallen by nearly 50% since the 1980s. The main cause of this decline was attributed to fisheries, as well as a changing climate.

The study looked at 11 species of Scottish seabirds, having also drawn on some of the data from the UK seabird monitoring programme. They found that the breeding numbers of those 11 species had fallen by an entire 49% between 1986 and 2019 – when the most recent estimate was gathered. The numbers of these important birds are said to be “continuing to decline.”

Alongside the many fisheries and continued negative effects of climate change, the report also cited the introduction of invasive species, not native to the regions, as a major reason for some of these steady declines over the years.

“The key drivers of change are fisheries, climate change and invasive non-native species,” the report wrote. “To a lesser extent, pollutants and offshore renewables may present some threats to seabirds.”

The bird with the largest decline out of these species was found to be the Arctic skua, with a total fall of 81%. It’s understood that the increasing lack of sandeel fish may be a major reason for this. The number of guillemot birds was, on the other hand, found to have gone up by 17% since 2016, with their numbers now at a similar level to what they were back in the early 2000s.

“While there are some positive signs of stabilisation in some species, overall our internationally important breeding seabird populations are continuing to decline,” said NatureScot’s trends and indicator analyst, Simon Foster. “We know that these declines are driven by factors including climate change, fisheries and invasive non-native species.” 


He added: “The Scottish Government’s forthcoming Scottish Seabird Conservation Strategy will be a crucial step in shedding more light on the pressures and threats that our seabirds face and setting out action to help secure their future.”

A separate analysis published back in July showed that the process of climate change was having a much more dramatic effect on seabird populations in Scotland, alongside other regions of the Northern Hemisphere, than anywhere else in the world.

The topic of declining seabird populations is set to be brought up during the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, which is set to take place in November. The host city of Glasgow itself had reportedly felt its hottest Summer on record earlier this week, according to the Met Office.

“As Scotland supports the majority of UK breeding seabirds, the UK trend is heavily influenced by trends in Scotland” wrote the report. “Seabird abundance in the UK increased between 1970 and 1999 and has since declined.” 


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2021 

Source: BBC, The Scotsman, NatureScot