A new study has documented large-scale infanticide at a major seabird colony. In common guillemots one parent normally stays with the chick to protect it while the mate goes out to collect food.

However, if food is short, both parents may go off to forage leaving their chick alone at the nest-site. The main risk to such unattended chicks was thought to be predation.

However, this research found that the biggest threat was neighbouring guillemots that frequently attacked and often killed unattended chicks.

This unexpected result highlights how deteriorating environmental conditions can disrupt social harmony in a seabird colony.

Royal Society journal Biology Letters

Biology Letters publishes short, innovative and cutting-edge research articles and opinion pieces accessible to scientists from across the biological sciences. The journal is characterised by stringent peer-review, rapid publication and broad dissemination of succinct high-quality research communications.

Biology Letters

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