Saving Seabirds to Save Their Million-dollar Poop

Researchers find seabird poop is worth millions for the global economy, but what does that mean for seabird conservation?

Island ecosystems and their surrounding marine environment are inextricably linked, and in recent years researchers have begun to study the significance this connectivity can have for marine and island restoration. It has become increasingly apparent that the health of offshore coral reefs has a positive relationship with the presence of seabirds roosting on nearby islands. The secret? Bird poop, or guano. However, the impact of guano has recently been found to go even further. Research, conducted by, Daniel Plazas-Jiménez and Marcus Cianciaruso, published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution revealed the economic value of guano—a value that has earned this commodity the nickname of “white gold.”

They release high concentrations of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) through their feces, causing important environmental changes in these ecosystems,” according to the study.

Research has shown that the influx of nutrients from guano into the marine environment positively impacts neighboring coral reef systems—potentially increasing fish biomass by 48 percent and increasing climate resilience. These same nutrients makes guano an excellent source of commercial fertilizer in countries like Chile and Peru, where people’s livelihoods are tied to the harvest and sale of guano.

Coral Gardens at Palmyra Atoll. Credit: USFWS/Kydd Pollock

To better understand the consequences of ongoing seabird decline globally, Marcus Cianciaruso wanted to quantify the economic and environmental contributions of guano. Using a “conservative estimate that 10 percent of coral reef fish stocks depend on seabird nutrients,” explained Jimenez, in conjunction with the United Nations’ estimated 6.5 billion USD value of commercial fisheries in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and the Great Barrier Reef, they determine that seabird guano contributes ~650 million USD to the markets’ evaluation every year. This is in addition to the annual market value of the guano trade which is approximately 474 million USD, results in a total valuation of 1.1 billion USD every year.

Puffins return to an island after feeding at sea. Credit: Alex Berger

Despite the economic and environmental contributions of seabird and their guano, research has shown repeatedly that their global populations are in serious decline. According to BirdLife International, one-third of the world’s seabirds face extinction, many due to human-induced threats such as the spread of invasive species to critical habitat. The imminent threat these populations face not only stands to impact marine and island ecosystems but could diminish the economic value of fisheries that many small island communities and coastal nations depend on. Using these new findings, the Cianciaruso and Jimenez are hopeful that policymakers and the general public will recognize the significant role seabird health plays in the global economy and allocate resources to the preservation of these highly-threatened seabirds and ecosystems.  

Featured photo: Herring Gulls in cliff-side nests with guano runoff. Credit: Shankar S.
Source: CNN

About Josh Sellers

Josh received his BA in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Having been lucky enough to live on the California coast his entire life, Josh has developed a deep sense of appreciation for the environment. This passion for the environment has manifested in Josh’s participation in various environmental campaigns, an interest in environmental history – studying the relationship between peoples and their surrounding environment(s) – and past employment with the United States House of Representatives, where he was afforded the opportunity to see how government policy impacts conservation efforts. In his spare time, Josh enjoys surfing, backpacking, and reading anything related to recent history, and fantasy novels. He is excited to be working with Island Conservation and help support the amazing work the organization does.

View All Posts

Follow Island Conservation on Social Media

[ism-social-followers list='fb,tw,li,youtube,instagram' template='ism_template_sf_1' list_align='horizontal' display_counts='false' display_full_name='true' box_align='center' ]

[ism-social-followers list='fb,tw,li,youtube,instagram' template='ism_template_sf_1' list_align='horizontal' display_counts='false' display_full_name='true' box_align='center' ]

Midway Atoll conservation




%d bloggers like this:

top male enhancement pills best male enhancement stretchers long lasting sex pills male enhancement pill manufacturers penis enlargement work estrogen supplements walgreens fx 7000 male enhancement reviews male enhancement pills wicked libi boy male enhancement light blue pill with m sexual male enhancement drugs chinese herbs male enhancement does bull male enhancement work male enhancement pills in dominican republic rhino male enhancement pennis extender reddit erectile dysfunction pills you want penis enlargement pills meme buy ed pills online levitra asian market ed pills review white knights male enhancement pills erectile dysfunction penis enlargement birth control pills microgynon ed enlarged prostate low libido surgery procedure for penis enlargement male front enhancement boxers beta pills male enhancement pills zyte spartan male enhancement reviews cpm male enhancer pill organ enlargement cheapest supplement site top rated over the counter erection pills how to tell penis enlargement penis enlargement device reviews safe working penis enlargement pills penis enlargement surgery free best men sex pills new japnese pill hair pills ride male enhancement pills 3000mg does super hard pills work scorpion male enhancement pills max performer pill do all borth control pills decrease sex drive sex drive supplement that are safe

cbd oil for psoriasis cbd for kids with adhd is cbd marijuana age to buy cbd oil cbd for arthritis pain is cbd oil safe best cbd on amazon full spectrum cbd oil vs isolate zija cbd patch cbd oil arthritis pain cbd oil dosage for arthritis sagely cbd vaping cbd benefits ingesting cbd oil michigan cbd oil how to calculate cbd dosage tru cbd oil is cbd oil legal federally will cbd oil affect a drug test cbd oil contents cbd approved by fda cbd juul pods cbd bottles low cost cbd oil hemp seeds for cbd oil tac thc cbd cosmetic dentistry brisbane cbd aquila shoes melbourne cbd brighten pure cbd reviews kombucha cbd liberty cbd review cbd intimacy oil cbd massage longmont cbd gummies rochester ny cbd hemp oil canada green compass cbd review sunspot cbd oil cbd oil for dementia cbd oil for throat cancer is cbd oil legal in dc cbd oil moorestown nj svg cbd oil what is peg 400 cbd oil johannesburg cbd

what are some good weight loss pills slimfast keto diet plan walmart pills to lose weight home diets to lose weight fast hypothyroid diet for weight loss best weight loss diet for o negative blood type best slim weight loss pill 1200 calorie diet how much weight loss ketozin diet pills liquid diet ideas weight loss 28 keto diet recipes diet lentgh vs weight loss good diets to lose weight fast red mountain weight loss diet can lose weight even with diet and exercise fat burning pills and keto good diet program to lose weight 3 day quick weight loss diet diet plans for vegetarians to lose weight natural best diet plan for weight loss water based diet to lose weight 3 day diet weight loss results do you lose weight on fodmap diet xcelerated weight loss pills tampa sensible diets to lose weight quick best top rated weight loss pills amberen weight loss pill reviews garcinia versus alli weight loss pills diet ketosis prescription weight loss pills after hysterectomy weight loss natural pills for women lebron james weight loss pills can a teenager get weight loss pills diet pattern for weight loss garcinia cambogia weight loss pills does it work weight loss diet plans for nutritionist customer reviews best weight loss pills diet drinks to lose weight fast is activia yogurt good for a weight loss diet best weight loss pill on the market today diet and weight loss edu lee sung kyung weight loss diet what contraceptive pills can lose weight juice plus diet weight loss