Penguins must be the most popular birds out there. Due to their inability to fly, they strike a very emotional chord in people as they manage to do just fine with their flightless wings and in an extremely brutal weather conditions. However, their cute waddling walk can’t save them in the face of global change. Penguin populations reached a number of 12 million, yet it is not enough.
The Most Comprehensive Study of Its Kind Signals a Shrinkage in Penguin Populations
On Tuesday, a new report was published that presented the findings of the first comprehensive study on penguin populations. The author is Ron Naveen who received the nickname of the 21st century Dr. Dolittle. His task for the last two decades was to count penguins. The report suggests that there are around six million breeding couples of penguins that populate Antarctica at this hour. While the study is ongoing, Naveen managed to reach a significant conclusion. He registered a dramatic shrinkage in the number of specimens that belong to certain species of penguins. The collapse of their population coincides with parts of the continent that got warmer in the past years.
Scientists collected all possible data on the five species that were affected by climate change. This includes a complex collection of ground counts, satellite images, and others. As a consequence, researchers created the first comprehensive outlook on penguin populations in the last two decades.
The Evolution of One Species that Settled across Antarctica Points at Climate Change
The report was uploaded on the official site of Oceanites, an environmental organization that Naveen founded back in 1987. The paper managed to notice different evolutions across penguin populations. For instance, two species called Adelie and chinstraps have dropped in number by 50% since the 1980s. However, at the same time, another species dubbed as Gentoo who are living in the same region as the other two showed signs of a reversed evolution. They managed to grow in numbers by as much as 40%. Scientists believe that the latter can adapt faster its nutritional habits.
That leads us to start thinking about climate change and why one species is adapting better than another,”
At the same time, there are some communities of Adelie penguins on the opposite part of the continents. As opposed to their brothers and sisters, these managed to grow in population. As the two sides of the continent have been affected differently by climate change, scientists believe that the Adelie communities that dropped in number have been affected by climate change. They live on the west side which is warmer than usual.
The report is not ready yet. Scientists have to document the situation of other species of penguins as well. Moreover, Oceanite organization plans to release similar updates on penguin populations on an annual basis.
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