Emperor Penguins in Antarctica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A decline in the population of emperor penguins appears likely this century as climate change reduces the extent of Antarctic sea ice, shows a recently published U.S. study.
The research, led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and published this week in Global Change Biology, focuses on a much-observed colony of emperor penguins in Terre Adelie, Antarctica.
Employing a set of sophisticated computer simulations of climate and a statistical model of penguin demographics, the authors conclude that the number of breeding pairs may fall by about 80 percent by 2100.
The authors stress that their projections contain large uncertainties, because of the difficulties in projecting both climate change and the response of penguins.
Another penguin population, the Dion Islets penguin colony close to the West Antarctic Peninsula, has disappeared, possibly because of a decline in Antarctic sea ice, according to the biologist.