Emperor penguins need special protection from climate change - Lake Harding Association

Emperor penguins need special protection from climate change

Emperor penguins need special protection from climate change

By Micah Moen 0 Comment October 9, 2019

Emperor penguins live only in Antarctica,
so they’re the most southerly breeding bird in the world. They’re the only
warm-blooded creature that breeds during the Antarctic winter so they have a very
extreme sort of lifestyle. They breed all around the coast of Antarctica anywhere that you find sea ice – which is frozen sea water – they’ll come out on to
that and use it as a platform to do their breeding. My name is Jane Younger
I’m a prize fellow in the Milner Center for Evolution. So this paper was a big collaboration between 18 scientists from around the world; we all
work on different aspects of emperor penguins and the point of this was to review how emperor penguins were doing with climate change and what we
expect for their future. We found that climate change is likely to have a very
big impact on emperor penguins. So they have a very unique lifestyle, they
actually breed on sea ice so they meet up with their mate on sea ice around the
coast of Antarctica, they lay their egg there, they protect the egg on the sea
ice throughout months of the winter and then they raise the chick on the ice
until it’s waterproof enough that it can go into the ocean and find food for
itself. Because of this really strong reliance on the sea ice we think
they’re very vulnerable to climate change. So climate change is expected to
make the sea ice less stable; there’ll be less of it, it’ll be present for fewer
months of the year and all of that is going to make breeding quite difficult
for emperor penguins.What we’re expecting through to the end of
this century, so over the next eighty years, we think that they’ll decline by
at least 50% and that’s a conservative estimate. The IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species assesses the status of species throughout the world
and how endangered they are. Given these projections for emperor penguins we think at least 50% of them will be gone in the next 80 years, then their
status should be elevated to vulnerable at least.

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