Chapter

Procellariiform extinctions in the Holocene: threat processes and wider ecosystem-scale implications

R. Paul Scofield

in Holocene Extinctions

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780199535095
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191715754 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199535095.003.0007
 Procellariiform extinctions in the Holocene: threat processes and wider ecosystem-scale implications

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The Procellariiformes — the order of oceanic tube-nosed seabirds that includes the albatrosses, petrels, and shearwaters — are an ancient group that has survived comparatively unchanged since the earliest Cenozoic. They exhibit comparatively low levels of extinction before the Late Quaternary; however, there is strong evidence that extensive species-level extinctions have occurred in the Holocene, and 56% of Holocene procellariiform species have lost populations. Recent extinctions in the group have been primarily driven by invasive mammal predation, as well as increasingly by direct fisheries mortality. There is growing recognition that a diverse range of terrestrial ecosystems are in fact supported by nutrients that originate from marine systems, with seabirds acting as a primary vector for nutrient transfer. Any disruption to these nutrient imports through seabird extinction may drastically affect ecosystems at both small and large scales, as has almost certainly already happened in regions such as New Zealand.

Keywords: albatross; allochthonous nutrients; fisheries mortality; invasive mammals; mesopredator release; nutrient cycling; petrel; shearwater

Chapter.  8371 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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