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Wildlife
Mass mortality of puffins, linked to starvation
  1. J. P. Duff1,
  2. M. P. Harris2 and
  3. D. M. Turner3
  1. 1 AHVLA – Penrith, Diseases of Wildlife Scheme, Merrythought, Calthwaite, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 9RR
  2. 2 Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuick, Midlothian EH26 0QB
  3. 3 Northeast England Beached Bird Survey Group, 9 Haswell Gardens, North Shields, Tyne and Wear NE30 2DP
  1. E-mail: paul.duff{at}ahvla.gsi.gov.uk

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INVESTIGATION of wildlife mass mortality events is fundamentally important in order to assess whether they signal an underlying significant change in the supporting ecosystem (Duff and others 2010). During the latter half of March 2013 a mass mortality of auks occurred between the Moray Firth and Lincolnshire. This incident was unusual because the species predominantly affected was the puffin (Fratercula arctica). Body counts conducted by volunteers totalled 3055 dead puffins along the Scottish shore and 1553 along the coastline of northeast England, following an exceptional period of strong to gale force east to south-east winds and rough seas over most of the last two weeks in March (Harris and Elkins 2013). Postmortem examination of 71 birds from Scotland found all to be emaciated with empty stomachs and with no obvious signs …

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