Natural catastrophic events such as heavy rainfall and windstorms may induce drastic decreases in breeding success of animal populations. We report the impacts of summer rainfalls on the reproductive success of ivory gull (Pagophila eburnea) in north-east Greenland. On two occasions, at Amdrup Land in July 2009 and at Station Nord in July 2011, we observed massive ivory gull breeding failures following violent rainfall and windstorms that hit the colonies. In each colony, all of the breeding birds abandoned their eggs or chicks during the storm. Juvenile mortality was close to 100% at Amdrup Land in 2009 and 100% at Station Nord in 2011. Our results show that strong winds associated with heavy rain directly affected the reproductive success of some Arctic bird species. Such extreme weather events may become more common with climate change and represent a new potential factor affecting ivory gull breeding success in the High Arctic.

Keywords: Pagophila eburnea; breeding failure; Greenland; endangered species; summer precipitation; climate change.

(Published: 13 March 2014)

Citation: Polar Research 2014, 33, 22749, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v33.22749

Read full article on CryoNews