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Emperor penguins and climate change

Emperor penguins and climate change Variations in ocean–atmosphere coupling over time in the Southern Ocean 1,2,3 have dominant effects on sea-ice extent and ecosystem structure 4,5,6 , but the ultimate consequences of such environmental changes for large marine predators cannot be accurately predicted because of the absence of long-term data series on key demographic parameters 7,8 . Here, we use the longest time series available on demographic parameters of an Antarctic large predator breeding on fast ice 9,10 and relying on food resources from the Southern Ocean 11 . We show that over the past 50 years, the population of emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) in Terre Adélie has declined by 50% because of a decrease in adult survival during the late 1970s. At this time there was a prolonged abnormally warm period with reduced sea-ice extent. Mortality rates increased when warm sea-surface temperatures occurred in the foraging area and when annual sea-ice extent was reduced, and were higher for males than for females. In contrast with survival, emperor penguins hatched fewer eggs when winter sea-ice was extended. These results indicate strong and contrasting effects of large-scale oceanographic processes and sea-ice extent on the demography of emperor penguins, and their potential high susceptibility to climate change. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nature Springer Journals

Emperor penguins and climate change

Nature , Volume 411 (6834) – May 10, 2001

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References (32)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2001 by Macmillan Magazines Ltd.
Subject
Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, multidisciplinary
ISSN
0028-0836
eISSN
1476-4687
DOI
10.1038/35075554
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Variations in ocean–atmosphere coupling over time in the Southern Ocean 1,2,3 have dominant effects on sea-ice extent and ecosystem structure 4,5,6 , but the ultimate consequences of such environmental changes for large marine predators cannot be accurately predicted because of the absence of long-term data series on key demographic parameters 7,8 . Here, we use the longest time series available on demographic parameters of an Antarctic large predator breeding on fast ice 9,10 and relying on food resources from the Southern Ocean 11 . We show that over the past 50 years, the population of emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) in Terre Adélie has declined by 50% because of a decrease in adult survival during the late 1970s. At this time there was a prolonged abnormally warm period with reduced sea-ice extent. Mortality rates increased when warm sea-surface temperatures occurred in the foraging area and when annual sea-ice extent was reduced, and were higher for males than for females. In contrast with survival, emperor penguins hatched fewer eggs when winter sea-ice was extended. These results indicate strong and contrasting effects of large-scale oceanographic processes and sea-ice extent on the demography of emperor penguins, and their potential high susceptibility to climate change.

Journal

NatureSpringer Journals

Published: May 10, 2001

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