Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Climate change blamed for decline in penguins: Population has halved in 30 years in western Antarctica - 11th Apr 2011

Climate change effects on food sources may have contributed to a halving of penguin populations in western Antarctica, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that populations of Adelie and chinstrap penguins in the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) and Scotia Sea had fallen by 50 per cent in the last 30 years.

The decline was directly related to a huge reduction in numbers of the penguins' main prey, shrimp-like krill.

Krill density had dropped by as much as 80per cent, both because of heightened competition from marine mammals and rising temperatures, said the scientists.

The findings challenge the theory that melting sea ice had reduced populations of Adelie penguins while benefiting chinstrap penguins. Read More