Using Natural History Collections to Shed Light on Long-term changes in colour, diet, and the effect of global climate change on seabirds

Global climate change threatens to drastically alter the behaviour and fitness of many species, and the ability to predict how Canadian wildlife will respond to these changes is imperative in planning management strategies. In this study, we will examine long-term changes in bill colouration, diet, and abundance of the Atlantic Puffin. We will collect feathers from museum specimens spanning >100 years, and use stable isotope analyses to estimate how puffin diets have changed over time. From the same specimens, we will measure breeding bill colouration as an indicator of individual quality.  Coupling this information with existing climate data, we will construct a model to predict how this species will respond to patterns of global climate change. The nature of this long-term dataset will allow us to differentiate between normal seasonal fluctuations and more abrupt rapid changes, which will be critical for management decisions for numerous species.

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Ryan Norris


Daniel Hanley





Fisheries and wildlife


University of Guelph



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