A brand new research utilizing satellite tv for pc mapping expertise reveals there are practically 20% extra emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica than was beforehand thought. The outcomes present an vital benchmark for monitoring the influence of environmental change on […]
A brand new research utilizing satellite tv for pc mapping expertise reveals there are practically 20% extra emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica than was beforehand thought. The outcomes present an vital benchmark for monitoring the influence of environmental change on the inhabitants of this iconic chook.
Reporting this week within the journal Distant Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, the authors describe how they used photographs from the European Fee’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite tv for pc mission to find the birds. They discovered 11 new colonies, three of which had been beforehand recognized however by no means confirmed. That takes the worldwide census to 61 colonies across the continent.
Emperor penguins want sea ice to breed and are positioned in areas which might be very tough to check as a result of they’re distant and infrequently inaccessible with temperatures as little as ?50°C (?58 levels Fahrenheit). For the final 10 years, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists have been in search of new colonies by trying to find their guano stains on the ice.
Lead creator Dr Peter Fretwell, a geographer at BAS says:
“That is an thrilling discovery. The brand new satellite tv for pc photographs of Antarctica’s shoreline have enabled us to seek out these new colonies. And while that is excellent news, the colonies are small and so solely take the general inhabitants rely up by 5-10% to simply over half one million penguins or round 265,500 — 278,500 breeding pairs.”
Emperor penguins are recognized to be susceptible to lack of sea ice, their favoured breeding habitat. With present projections of local weather change, this habitat is prone to decline. A lot of the newly discovered colonies are located on the margins of the emperors’ breeding vary. Due to this fact, these places are prone to be misplaced because the local weather warms.
Dr Phil Trathan, Head of Conservation Biology at BAS, has been finding out penguins for the final three a long time. He says:
“While it is excellent news that we have discovered these new colonies, the breeding websites are all in places the place current mannequin projections recommend emperors will decline. Birds in these websites are due to this fact most likely the ‘canaries within the coalmine’ — we have to watch these websites fastidiously as local weather change will have an effect on this area.”
The research discovered various colonies positioned far offshore, located on sea ice that has shaped round icebergs that had grounded in shallow water. These colonies, as much as 180 km offshore, are a stunning new discovering within the behaviour of this more and more well-known species.
The analysis was funded by UKRI-NERC as a part of the Wildlife from House undertaking.
Supplies offered by British Antarctic Survey. Notice: Content material could also be edited for model and size.