Emperor Penguins will face extinction within the next 100 years

March of the Penguins

Creative Commons License Photo credit: pixie_bebe

If the ice continues to shrink (due to man-made climate change) at its current pace the Emperor Penguins will become extinct within 100 years, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts warns.

"Emperor Penguins are one of only two open-sea Antarctic penguin species and depend on the sea ice for survival. After breeding, Emperor Penguins feed among the coastal pack ice where stretches of water are exposed. As a result of disappearing ice, the Emperor Penguins are being forced to retreat inward and could easily become displaced by other animals, losing out on nesting space.

After examining data from the Terre Adelie penguin colony, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts found the Emperor Penguin population is facing a quasi-extinction, equal to a 95 percent or more population drop by the year 2100. The population is expected to decline from 6000 breeding pairs to only 400 pairs in the next 100 years if sea ice continues to shrink at the rate projected by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) models."

It seems that the penguins can’t adapt to changing conditions and climate, by altering the timing of their breeding cycle for example. "Unlike some other Antarctic bird species that have altered their life cycles, penguins don't catch on so quickly," Stephanie Jenouvrier said. "They are long-lived organisms, so they adapt slowly. This is a problem because the climate is changing very fast."

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Simon Leufstedt
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