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Free Content Relics: penguin population programs

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What has been responsible for the increase in Chinstrap penguin populations during the past 40 years in maritime Antarctica? One view ascribes it to an increase in availability of their prey brought on by the decrease in baleen whale stocks. The contrary opinion, attributes it to environmental warming. This causes a gradual decrease in the frequency of cold years with extensive winter sea ice cover. A number of penguin monitoring programs are in progress and are expected to provide some answers to these questions. Unfortunately, it is not easy to distinguish natural variability from anthropogenic change since penguins are easily accessible predators of krill and the feeding range of the penguins has almost overlapped with the krill fishery in time and space in the last four decades. Therefore it is important to reconstruct the change of ancient penguin abundance and distribution in the absence of human activity. Many efforts have focused on surveying the abandoned penguin rookeries, but this method has not been able to give a continuous historical record of penguin populations. In several recent studies, ancient penguin excreta was scooped from the penguin relics in the sediments of the lake on penguin rookery, Ardley Island, maritime Antarctica. In these studies, penguin droppings or guano soil deposited in the lake and changes in sediment geochemistry have been used to calculate penguin population changes based upon the geochemical composition of the sediment core. The results suggest that climate change has a significant impact on penguin populations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Polar Environment of the University of Science and Technology of China

Publication date: 2001-02-15

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