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BROCHURE RACK

Emperor penguins can relocate to beat global warming

25/06/2014 13:12:42 news/2010_jan/emperor_penguin

Contrary to common belief emperor penguins are able to relocate to new nesting sites, a new study suggests.


The researchers from University of Minnesota used satellite images to monitor penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula and found six instances in three years in which emperors did not return to the same location to breed, and one totally new colony.

"Our research showing that colonies seem to appear and disappear throughout the years challenges behaviours we thought we understood about emperor penguins," said lead author Michelle LaRue.

"If we assume that these birds come back to the same locations every year, without fail, these new colonies we see on satellite images wouldn't make any sense.

"These birds didn't just appear out of thin air - they had to have come from somewhere else. This suggests that emperor penguins move among colonies.

"That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes."

The satalite images also show that the penguin colony at Pointe Géologie is not as isolated as once thought.This news compiled with the other findings, could mean that the decline in numbers that took place during the 1970s, (from 6,000 breeding pairs to 3,000). was not due to decreased survival rates caused by the warming temperatures.

Instead they could simply have decided to relocate. 

"It's possible that birds have moved away from Pointe Géologie to these other spots and that means that maybe those banded birds didn't die," LaRue said. "If we want to accurately conserve the species, we really need to know the basics. We've just learned something unexpected, and we should rethink how we interpret colony fluctuations."

 

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