Penguin future uncertain in the face of climate change

Adélie penguins

Changes in average climatic conditions combined with the increasing frequency of unpredictable, extreme weather events may disrupt scientific predictions of the future penguin populations, according to a study published in PLOS ONE on January 29, 2014 by Amélie Lescroël from the Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS), France and colleagues.

Antarctic penguins are dependent year-round on sea ice as a foraging habitat, and survival depends on their ability to respond over both short- and long-term changes in sea ice. For 13 years, researchers collected data on the foraging ability of chick-rearing Adélie penguins on Ross Island, Antarctica. In the middle of their study, the breaking off of giant icebergs allowed them to determine how such extreme environmental events affect the sea-ice dependent penguins.

The authors suggest that penguins are able to respond to changes in sea ice concentrations under “normal” environmental conditions, but not as much in the face of extreme events, like the presence of giant icebergs. Under “normal” conditions, Adélie penguins were most successful at finding food at relatively low sea ice concentrations and should be able to cope with future reduction in summer sea ice concentration.

Read the full story here.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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