SENR Seminar Series - Seabird establishment in the Falklands triggered an ecosystem state shift 5000 years ago

Jacquelyn Gill, PhD, associate professor of paleoecology & plant ecology at The University of Maine will present, Seabird establishment in the Falklands triggered an ecosystem state shift 5000 years ago on Thursday, November 5, 2020. Join via Zoom at 4:10 p.m. 

The coastal tussac (Poa flabellata) grasslands of the Falkland Islands are a critical seabird breeding habitat, but have been drastically reduced by grazing and erosion. Meanwhile, the sensitivity of seabirds and tussac to climate change is unknown, due to a lack of long-term records in the South Atlantic. Our 14,000-year multi-proxy record reveals an ecosystem state shift following seabird establishment 5,000 years ago, as marine-derived nutrients from guano facilitated tussac establishment, peat productivity, and increased fire. Seabird arrival coincided with regional cooling, suggesting the Falkland Islands are a cold-climate refugium. Conservation efforts focusing on tussac restoration should include this terrestrial-marine linkage, though a warming Southern Ocean calls into question the long-term viability of the Falkland Islands as habitat for low-latitude seabirds.