Antarctic sea ice has crashed in recent years. It’s nothing to celebrate, but apparently some Antarctic penguins love it. A new study On Wednesday, he discovered that a group of Adelie penguins actually thrived during a period of sea ice loss. However, don’t get too excited. This loss of sea ice does not affect all penguins in the same way.
The study, published in Science Advances, extended the breeding season in 2016 to 2017 along Lützow-Holm Bay in East Antarctica. That year, the region experienced a tremendous loss of sea ice. In fact, the continent set a low record in 2017. The researchers discovered that, to their surprise, penguins saw increased body mass, chick growth rates, and reproductive success this season compared to the other three ranging from 2010 to 2013.
“It turns out that these penguins are happier with less sea ice,” said lead researcher Yuuki Watanabe of the National Polar Research Institute in Tokyo. in a sentence. “This may seem counterintuitive, but the underlying mechanism is really quite simple.”
TThe group of 175 birds was able to feed more easily on less sea ice, swimming more to look for food instead of walking. Penguins swim faster than walking. As a result, penguins were able to spend more time feeding while using less energy. During years of increased ice cap, penguins were forced to walk further, looking for cracks in the ice where they can. dive to look for krill and fish. Without the ice, the birds were free to dive into the water right in front of their nests. Penguins ended up saving 3.2 to 7.9 hours in the shortest duration travel while covering up 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) more distance than they would have with more ice.
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All of this made an appreciable difference in the health of penguins. Females saw 5% to 16% higher body mass while men saw 7% up to 17% plus. Chicks, on the other hand, grew by 34% to 52% more compared to stations with greater ice coverage. Previous studies had found different impacts of the loss of sea ice on penguins, but none had used the types of technologies: GPS, cameras and accelero.metersin the new study to discover the mechanisms of what is driving the difference in behavior.
“The advantage of this document is that technological advances (GPS tags, immersion depth recorders, etc.) actually show us which aspects of Adélies’ ecology are affected by more optimal sea ice conditions,” Bill Fraser, chairman and principal investigator of the Polar Oceans Research Group who also studied these dynamics in Adelie penguins but not as part of this study, wrote to Earther in an email. “This is truly the most unique / novel aspect of this document; in other words, the data generated by the instrument that really shows how Adélies responds to sea ice. “
Using these technologies, the team of scientists at the National Polar Research Institute in Tokyo could track feeding trips, classify swimming behaviors versus walking, and estimate how much prey the penguins caught during their dives. However, the paper does not Explain why Adelie penguin populations in the warmer parts of the Antarctic Peninsula fare less well on less ice. The authors hypothesize in the document that the availability of dams and energy expenditure could have something to do with it. The way Fraser sees it, this document doesn’t really offer good news. In fact, it shows how sensitive these creatures are to a changing climate.
“The Adelies are not safe anywhere as long as Earth continues to heat up,” he told Earther.