Whither Black-browed Albatrosses as the climate changes?

A Black-browed Albatross flies over a stormy sea, by Rodrigo Tapia Jimenez, winner of the World Albatross Day 2020 photography competition “Albatrosses, their World and Threats' (click here)

Juan Gonzalez (Instituto de Biodiversidad Neotropical, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina) and colleagues have published in the journal Polar Biology on the fate of Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris in the face of climate change.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The Black-browed Albatross (BBA), Thalassarche melanophris, is one of the most abundant and widespread pelagic seabirds in the southern hemisphere, considered an indicator species of climate change in Antarctica. In addition to the known negative interactions with fisheries, other threats may act indirectly on this species whose effects have not yet been evaluated, such as increased sea surface temperature due to climate change. Under the assumption that carbon emissions modify the distribution of BBA, we modeled the environmental suitability and inferred BBA distribution under future climate scenarios for 2050 and 2100. We used 23 years of observation data (1991–2020) from research vessels in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean and Antarctica to estimate habitat suitability and predict change in suitability for the two future time ranges (2040–2050 and 2090–2100) under four representative concentration pathway scenarios: optimistic, intermediate pessimistic. Our projections predict a reduction in the total habitat suitability for BBA by 8% and 31.4% by 2050 and 2100, respectively, in the worst-case scenario compared to the present. Our study enhances understanding of the factors driving distribution dynamics for the species and aid in the development of conservation areas under future global change scenarios.”

With thanks to Javier Quiñones.


Gonzalez, J.C., Orgeira, J.L., Jimenez, Y.G., Nieto, C., Romero, C., Alegre, A. & Quiñones, J. 2023. Habitat suitability under future climate scenarios in black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) in Southern South America and Antarctica. Polar Biology doi.org/10.1007/s00300-023-03143-7.

18 May 2023

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