Climate Change and Industrial Fishing Benefiting Beaufort Island Adélie Penguin: Study

Scientists from the University of Minnesota unveiled that climate change and industrial fishing can be a cause of benefit for the penguins.

Created On: Apr 6, 2013 16:39 ISTModified On: Apr 6, 2013 16:41 IST

Scientists from the University of Minnesota unveiled that climate change can be a cause of benefit for the penguins. It was found that steep cliffs as well as glaciers can limit the Beaufort Island Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) colony’s nesting grounds’ expansion. Earlier too, the scientists had documented how because of these glaciers, the young penguins slowed their migration from Beaufort Island and remained in the new ice-free areas, primarily after 2005.

Beaufort Island is situated in the Ross Sea, which is said to be the most isolated area of Earth. The ice shelf of Ross Sea covers 487000 square kilometers or approximately the area of France.
Even though the Beaufort Island’s glaciers are receding, but the sea ice is expanding in certain areas of Antarctica because of the warming of region. As a result, expansion of sea ice led to creation of holes called polynyas. These polynyas, enable the penguins to get access to bird’s prey like silverfish (Pleuragramma antarctica) and crystal krill (Euphausia crystallorophias).

Lead author of the study, Michelle Larue of the University of Minnesota explained that an increase in penguin population can also be a cause of increase in the population of silverfish. And an increase in the population of silverfish occurred because of reduction in predation of Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) over silverfish.

As a result, it was analysed that Ross Sea Adélie penguins would have benefited from climate change and industrial fishing which led to more room for them to hatch babies and get abundant food. It is also important to note that industrial fishing as well as climate change, in turn have affected various other species.

In the 52-year study period, it was noticed that nesting area and density of Beaufort Island Adélie penguins increased and there was also an opening of new sub-colony on north shore of this Island. There are three more penguin colonies which nest in Ross Sea area. Over the recent years, the population of these penguin colonies also increased.

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