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Penguins that shun ice still lose big from a warming climate
Date:4/11/2011

ans were much more abundant.

Although chinstrap penguins avoid feeding in icy habitats, sea ice provides the necessary environment for krill to reproduce. Increasing temperatures and reductions in sea ice have made conditions unfavorable to sustain ample populations of this food source. The authors suggest that fishing for krill and increased competition among other predators also have made them less available to penguins.

"Penguins are excellent indicators of changes to the biological and environmental health of the broader ecosystem because they are easily accessible while breeding on land, yet they depend entirely on food resources from the sea. In addition, unlike many other krill-eating top predators in the Antarctic, such as whales and fur seals, they were not hunted by humans," said Dr. Trivelpiece. "When we see steep declines in populations, as we have been documenting with both chinstrap and Adlie penguins, we know there's a much larger ecological problem."

Adlie penguins, which feed in icy habitats, are also declining due to food shortages and shrinking habitat. They differ from chinstrap penguins, however, in that they have breeding populations outside of the western Antarctic, which makes them less vulnerable to the rapid warming in the Antarctic Peninsula region by comparison.


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Contact: Jo Knight,
jknight@pewtrusts.org
202-664-4504
Pew Environment Group
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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