As clean-up efforts continue and plastic reduction policies come into effect, assessing if and how these measures reduce the impacts of plastics on vulnerable species such as petrels is critical to evaluating these approaches. Anthropogenic environmental contaminants, including heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants hereafter, POPs , can be taken up by and cause negative impacts to marine wildlife.
Given that such contaminants have global distributions and some contaminants, such as mercury and POPs, tend to bio-magnify up food chains, petrels may be globally vulnerable to accumulating high levels of contaminants Mallory and Braune, Negative effects vary by contaminant, species, and concentration but can include behavioral changes, physical deformities, mortality, and reduced reproductive success. Contaminant accumulation e. Petrels can also be exposed to heavy metals and contaminants via plastic ingestion Tanaka et al.
Future research priorities include evaluating: 1 the use of petrels as bio-monitors of contaminant levels in marine systems and the role of regulations on contaminant loads; 2 the implications of variability in contaminant levels in tissues throughout their annual cycle; and 3 the impact of contaminants, including those leached from ingested plastic debris, on vital rates.
The episodic nature of oil spills, blowouts and discharges are both chronic and acute in nature. Magnitude of oil impacts are determined by spill locations, duration, and more importantly, the spatial-temporal overlap with seasonal bird distributions Burger, Quantification of these impacts is difficult, especially for pelagic birds where carcass detection and collection can be challenging or impossible.
Chronic oil spills kill tens of thousands of seabirds each year in eastern Canada Wiese and Robertson, , although petrels accounted for less than 0.
Birds that survive initial oiling are vulnerable to hypothermia because of a decline in the waterproof properties of feathers when oil clumps and sticks to feathers. A reduction in body condition and reduced foraging opportunities can result in dehydration and mobilization of energy stores leading to starvation Crawford et al. Birds that survive may also attempt to preen oil off, resulting in significant ingestion leading to a series of oil-induced diseases, such as aspergillosis, cachexia, haemolytic anemia, ulceration of the stomach, and immuno-suppressant effects Crawford et al.
In addition, indirect effects on habitat and prey could be severe Zabala et al.
Assessment of oil spill impacts will require better estimates of at-sea distribution and abundance of petrel species which can be used in exposure probability models Wilhelm et al. Future work on oil spills in the vicinity of colonies should consider short- and medium-term management solutions and ecosystem restoration to mitigate the impacts of oil spills on petrels. During the Fukushima nuclear disaster in , reactor cooling waters were diverted into the Pacific Ocean Reardon, ; Buesseler, Trans-equatorial migrants, such as Flesh-footed Shearwaters foraging within the contaminated marine zone Reid et al.
The consequences of radioactive isotopes incorporated into the food chain could include reproductive failure, mutations, and stunted growth in seabirds Buesseler, However, no formal research has been specifically conducted in petrels. Long-term monitoring is needed to determine the extent of these contaminant burden and if there are individual, sub-population or population-level impacts for exposed birds. Human disturbance can have detrimental effects on wildlife including petrels Carney and Sydeman, ; Carey, Given that petrels are highly pelagic seabirds, disturbance by humans is more frequent on land at breeding areas.
Thus, all evidence of human disturbance on petrels comes from breeding colonies, mainly related with research or recreational activities. Handling of eggs, chicks, and adults during research or burrow access hatches can lead to negative effects on breeding rates Blackmer et al.
For example, manipulating the smaller species at egg stage could result in clutch abandon. Even the presence of observers during the hatching period can produce lower hatching and breeding success, as observed in Northern Fulmars Ollason and Dunnet, Physiological effects have also been reported. Nest manipulations and human approaches by a single person on foot caused considerable increases in heart rates and modified energy expenditure during incubation of surface-nesting Northern Giant Petrels Macronectes halli de Villiers et al.
In the Mediterranean, European Storm-Petrels were not chronically stressed measured by adrenocorticotropic hormone levels by the presence of tourist boats inside a tourist-exposed breeding cave, but birds breeding in undisturbed caves could be more susceptible to novel stressors Soldatini et al. Nestling mortality was higher in areas exposed to high visitor pressure than remote areas at the Shetland Islands Watson et al. In comparison with other seabirds like penguins and albatrosses, there are fewer field studies describing effects of human disturbance on breeding biology and physiology of petrels.
Underground nesting behavior of petrels, which might make them less susceptible to human disturbance owing to the absence of direct visual contact, could explain the few studies Watson et al.
Long-term studies on anthropogenic stress will contribute to understanding the extent of consequences of human activities on animal populations, especially those of rare or endangered species Carney and Sydeman, ; Carey, Energy production and mining are highly lucrative industries with potential to impact pelagic seabirds offshore and at colonies. Direct impacts kill individuals, while indirect influences can modify movement behavior and remove or alter foraging and nesting habitats as detailed in previous sections.
Loss or degradation of breeding habitat through mining and quarrying is a threat for at least six IUCN Red-listed petrel species; for three overall impact is assessed as medium. For the endangered Peruvian Diving Petrel Pelecanoides garnotii , which burrows in thick guano, guano extraction is thought to have precipitated the massive historical declines along the Chilean and Peruvian coasts, and the extraction continues today, albeit at lower intensity BirdLife International, a.
Nickel mining occurs within current and former breeding locations of the Tahiti Petrel, where feasibility of chick translocation as a means of mitigating the impact of mining is being investigated BirdLife International, a. The impact and numbers of affected species worldwide by other mining operations is unknown.
Permanent habitat loss likely precludes mitigation strategies, so conservation efforts should identify vulnerable colonies and limit development near these sites. Impacts of offshore hydrocarbon development on seabirds have been poorly studied and specific information related to effects on petrels is extremely sparse, often anecdotal Ronconi et al.
Impacts include mortality associated with attraction to and collisions with platforms, lights and flares Wiese et al. Attraction to artificial night-lighting associated with offshore hydrocarbon platforms and ships is a major risk for petrels see Light pollution section. Light attraction on migration and wintering grounds also requires study, e.
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Best-practice recommendations include filling seasonal data gaps for distribution and abundance of vulnerable species, establishing monitoring and management plans at the outset of industrial development, and deploying independent observers on offshore platforms to quantify the occurrences and mortality of seabirds Burke et al. Mitigation of this mortality is likely unfeasible for most platform operations, but cumulative impacts should be considered with environmental impact assessments and monitoring. Marine and coastal renewable energy developments may also represent threats to petrels.
Overall, the potential impacts of renewable energy installations on small petrels, whether positive or negative, are poorly understood. However, formal assessments conclude that impact risks are low for petrels Furness et al. Such studies are restricted to a small number of mostly North-European sites, therefore further work is needed to quantify the potential and realized risk on shearwaters and petrels over a much broader range of locations and species.
Land-based wind farms may also impact some species, particularly those breeding at high altitudes or inland, as they commute from terrestrial colonies to marine foraging areas. For all species, the impact of collisions is either unknown or assessed as negligible-low. Wave-powered energy installations have extremely low collision and displacement potential for flying birds, but are a direct collision risk to diving species Grecian et al. Currently, most wave-powered devices are located in shallow coastal waters, whereas petrels frequently forage in pelagic waters, meaning minimal risks of impact.
Research could, however, be targeted on understanding the diving behavior of some coastal small tubenoses in areas where wave-powered devices may be constructed. Offshore wind farms and wave-powered energy installations may also indirectly impact petrels via changes in ocean habitat and foraging conditions. These processes are not well understood, but available research suggests that such indirect effects are beneficial Inger et al. For instance, wind farms might act as de facto Marine Protected Areas Campbell et al.
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At-sea distribution during the breeding season, and particularly the non-breeding season, is poorly known for many species, and consequently so is our ability to assess spatial risk from the traditional oil and gas and renewable wind, tidal energy sectors. Current technology allows both fine-scale and year-round tracking of even the smallest species. Filling the research gaps about petrel seasonal marine distribution will improve our ability to assess potential impacts and should be a focus moving forward.
Food depletion herein is considered to be the adverse consequence of human extractive activities fisheries influencing prey availability by direct exploitation with an implicit competition between fisheries and seabirds for forage fish pelagic fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods Furness, ; Cury et al. There is evidence of the relationship between forage fish availability and breeding success in some species Louzao et al.
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Prey reduction could adversely affect breeding success Bourgeois and Vidal, ; Sommer et al. Low food availability may increase attraction to vessels, and thus, increase bycatch Laneri et al. Fishing activities can also affect petrel populations by reducing pelagic marine predator populations e. For most petrels, there is no evidence of the in direct effects of food depletion. Understanding the processes by which competition with fisheries may affect seabird foraging ecology and life-history traits are essential to quantify the interactions and impacts Bertrand et al.
Proposed conservation actions could be directed to promote sustainable fishery management by studying both the forage fish and tuna populations to assess the degree of over- exploitation, and thus potentially limiting fish catches to secure prey availability and feeding opportunities. Fisheries could be also limited within specific seabird foraging grounds to secure prey availability in these localized areas through adaptive marine protected areas Bertrand et al.
Other research actions should be directed to assess the impact of food depletion on the foraging ecology, breeding performance and survival by implementing long-term population monitoring Arcos, ; Karris et al. Discards provide important food for petrels, with the potential to support high numbers of scavengers, influencing movement and demography.
Discard volumes are decreasing globally Zeller et al. Discard availability can shape shearwater movement ecology when trawling activity provides a predictable foraging resource every weekday Bartumeus et al. Northern Fulmars alter their at-sea movements even when they are as far as 35 km from a fishing boat Pirotta et al.
Furthermore, discard availability can alter seabird life-history traits Bicknell et al. While most work on discard use by petrels is focussed on breeding birds, fisheries waste may also be important during non-breeding periods Meier et al. Further research is required to determine the extent to which movement of other species throughout the annual cycle is influenced and in what manner by fisheries. Only a limited understanding of the extent to which scavenging varies among and within species is currently available.
A review of species-specific and regional differences in discard use is required to better understand the incidence and implications of discard use. Although disease emergence is recognized as a major threat for conservation, current knowledge on the ecology, epidemiology, and evolution, of infectious diseases in petrels, remains very limited. Transmission both direct and vector-borne of bacteria and viruses has been documented in other species of Procellariiformes, with sometimes devastating effects on the reproductive success of endangered species, e.
In petrels, Puffinosis has been recorded in Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus more than 30 years ago Brooke, , but the drivers of pathogen transmission are yet to be clearly determined. Negative effects associated with petrel infestation by ticks and other blood-parasites would also require further investigation Dietrich et al. Studies on the mechanisms involved in transmission dynamics e. Effective conservation actions and assessments require well-documented knowledge on breeding biology, habitat use, as well as on population trends of the species that we aim to conserve or use as environmental indicators of the marine ecosystem.
These specific fields of research are not often addressed for many petrel species, including both knowledge acquired on land in colonies and knowledge acquired at-sea during foraging trips, migration, and pelagic distribution. Therefore, we review here the current knowledge gaps in the breeding biology, habitat requirements, population size, and trends that could help in understanding the current conservation status of petrels and shearwaters.
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The biology and ecology of petrels and shearwaters, especially the smaller species, can be challenging to study due to their specific behavior and nesting habits. First, some of these species are very sensitive to handling, such as most storm-petrels and small shearwaters, for which handling adults at specific time periods e. Third, they often nest underground, in deep and inaccessible burrows, some of them excavated in soft soils, including sand. Fourth, they breed in remote locations, such as offshore islands, island summits or inaccessible cliffs. Thus, reaching burrows or colonies is sometimes difficult, e.
Until very recently, some species were even considered extinct Shirihai, Rediscovery of lost species could still be possible, e. Thus, the secretive breeding habits of petrels, not only hinder accurate our understanding of their breeding biology and their population estimates see below , but also the identification of nesting areas and potential threats affecting these pelagic species on land.
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