Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Confirm Decline in Breeding Chinstrap Penguins in Antarctic Peninsula

31.08.2012
In a paper published this week in the journal Polar Biology, researchers from the Antarctic Site Inventory confirm significant declines in the breeding population of chinstrap penguins in the vastly warming Antarctic Peninsula, where it’s warming faster than, or as fast as, any other place on Earth.

In the paper entitled “First direct, site-wide penguin survey at Deception Island, Antarctica, suggests significant declines in breeding chinstrap penguins”, these results and analyses stem from fieldwork conducted in December 2011 at Deception Island, one of the most frequently visited locations in Antarctica.

Overseen by Ron Naveen, founder of the nonprofit science and conservation organization, Oceanites, Inc., the Deception Island census effort analyses were undertaken by Dr. Heather Lynch, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University, and chief scientist of the Antarctic Site Inventory project.

The Inventory has been collecting and analyzing Antarctic Peninsula-wide penguin population data since 1994, and these new findings have important implications both for the advancement of Antarctic science and the management of Antarctica by the Antarctic Treaty nations.

“Our Deception Island work, using the yacht Pelagic as our base, occurred over 12 days and in the harshest of conditions — persistent clouds, precipitation, and high winds, the latter sometimes reaching gale force and requiring a lot of patience waiting out the blows," said Mr. Naveen. "But, in the end, we achieved the first-ever survey of all chinstraps breeding on the island.”

The other Inventory researchers on the team were Steven Forrest (Oceanites, Inc.), Dr. Thomas Mueller (Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre), and Dr. Michael Polito (now at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute). The scientific effort of the Inventory is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and public contributions, and the project’s on-the-ground fieldwork at Deception Island was specifically supported by a grant from The Tinker Foundation. The Inventory is the only publicly supported science project working in Antarctica and the only science project tracking penguin populations throughout the entire Antarctic Peninsula region.

The scientific effort of the Inventory is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and public contributions, and the project’s on-the-ground fieldwork at Deception Island was specifically supported by a grant from The Tinker Foundation. The Inventory is the only publicly supported science project working in Antarctica and the only science project tracking penguin populations throughout the entire Antarctic Peninsula region.

Deception Island (62°57 S, 60°38 W) is frequently visited and there has been speculation that tourism may have a negative impact on breeding chinstrap penguins — especially, at Deception Island’s largest chinstrap colony known as Baily Head. Previously, Antarctic Treaty-level discussions regarding the management of visitors at Baily Head proceeded in the absence of concrete site-wide census data.

The results and analyses, according to Dr. Lynch, shed new light on the massive changes occurring in this region.

“Our team found 79,849 breeding pairs of chinstrap penguins at Deception, including 50,408 breeding pairs at Baily Head. Combined with a simulation designed to capture uncertainty in an earlier population estimate, there is strong evidence to suggest a significant (>50%) decline in the abundance of chinstraps breeding at Baily Head since 1986/87.

“The decline of chinstrap penguins at Baily Head is consistent with declines in this species throughout the region, including at sites that receive little or no tourism; further, as a consequence of regional environmental changes that currently represent the dominant influence on penguin dynamics, we cannot ascribe any direct link in this study between chinstrap declines and tourism.”

The Baily Head analysis was abetted by Dr. Lynch’s cutting-edge analyses of high-resolution satellite imagery. Images were available for the 2002/03 and the 2009/10 seasons that suggest a 39% decline over that seven-year period, and which provide independent confirmation of this population decline. Via assistance from the U.S. National Science Foundation and a cooperative effort the University of Minnesota’s Polar Geospatial Center, the Inventory continues to demonstrate the use of satellite imagery to analyze and describe environmental change in sensitive habitats.

“We now know,” says Naveen, “that two of the three predominant penguin species in the Peninsula — chinstrap and Adélie — are declining significantly in a region where, in the last 60 years, it’s warmed by 3˚ C. (5˚ F.) annually and by 5˚ C. (9˚ F.) in winter. By contrast, gentoo penguins, the third of these species, are expanding both its numbers and range. These divergent responses are an ongoing focus of our Inventory work effort.”

Adds Lynch: “While there has been considerable focus in the policy and management community about the potential impact of tourism on these penguin populations, we cannot forget the overwhelming evidence that climate is responsible for the dramatic changes that we are seeing on the Peninsula. If tourism is having a negative impact on these populations, it’s too small an effect to be detected against the background of climate change.”

Dr. Heather J. Lynch
Stony Brook University
301-974-2993
hlynch@life.bio.sunysb.edu
Ron Naveen, Oceanites, Inc.
202-237-6262
oceanites.mail@verizon.net

Dr. Heather J. Lynch | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.stonybrook.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>