Date: April 25, 2018
Source: American Ornithological Society Publications Office
Where do seabirds go when their nesting colony is buried by a volcano? In 2008, the eruption of the Kasatochi volcano in the Aleutian archipelago provided a rare opportunity to track how the island's Crested and Least auklet populations responded when their nesting colony was abruptly destroyed. As a new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances shows, the birds were surprisingly adaptable, establishing a new colony on freshly created habitat nearby in only four years.
Crested and Least auklets rely on habitat that must be maintained by continual disturbance -- they nest in crevices in talus slopes formed by rock falls, which eventually become unusable when they're filled in with soil and debris. The volcano's 2008 eruption buried all of the suitable nesting habitat for the 100,000 Crested Auklets and 150,000 Least Auklets that had been nesting on Kasatochi.