News Picks : Climate change tied to greater death rate in Magellanic penguin chicks
30 January 2014
BBC: Magellanic penguins live on the Punto Tumbo peninsula in Argentina and return to the same areas each year during their breeding season. When the chicks are born, many are too large for their parents to keep warm, but they lack the layer of waterproof feathers that adults have. That makes them vulnerable to rainstorms and temperature extremes, including periods of extended heat when they can't enter the ocean to cool off. A 27-year study conducted by Dee Boersma of the University of Washington and her colleagues has revealed that climate change has led to an increase in the death rate of the penguin chicks. During the two-week breeding season, the number of rainstorms and days of extreme heat have increased over the period of the study. The researchers also documented that the start of the season is now several days later than it was at the beginning of the study. They propose that the penguins have altered their migration patterns because the fish they eat are arriving later as a result of climate-related changes in the oceans.