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Earth Science

Climate Change Prompts Emperor Penguins To Find New Breeding Grounds 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the moving-to-better-quarters-on-campus dept.
An anonymous reader writes Researchers have discovered that emperor penguins may not be faithful to their previous nesting locations, as previously thought. Scientists have long thought that emperor penguins were philopatric, returning to the same location to nest each year. However, a new research study showed that the penguins may be behaving in ways that allow them to adapt to their changing environment. Lead author Michelle LaRue said,"Our research showing that colonies seem to appear and disappear throughout the years challenges behaviors we thought we understood about emperor penguins. If we assume that these birds come back to the same locations every year, without fail, these new colonies we see on satellite images wouldn't make any sense. These birds didn't just appear out of thin air—they had to have come from somewhere else. This suggests that emperor penguins move among colonies. That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes."
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Climate Change Prompts Emperor Penguins To Find New Breeding Grounds

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  • HUH? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NetNed (955141) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @04:20PM (#47294631)
    OK, and this is part of climate change how? They have done it for years, but now it's part of "climate change"?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Haven't you heard, everything is the result of climate change and anything that contradicts this is a lie cooked up by deniers.

      • by doccus (2020662)
        I couldn't believe how blatantly political that title is, either. The true title should be "Emperor penguins outsmart researchers" ;-)
    • ...In Highly Evolved Species. Film at 11:00.

    • Re:HUH? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:31PM (#47295301)

      If you apply for a grant to study penguin breeding grounds . . . you won't get it approved.

      If you apply for a grant to study penguin breeding grounds . . . affected by global climate change . . . you can have all the money you want.

      • If you believe that nonsense, you surely can point out who is willing to pay for such an endeavor so I can apply for said funds?

        • Here you go: http://ec.europa.eu/programmes... [europa.eu]

          . . . the rest is up to your writing capability . . . an excellent submission could also be reused for an Ig Nobel . . .

          • Unfortunately those guys don't pay for the nonsense you claim.
            The budgets are fixed years back, and usually are the research programs. So if you want funding for some Penguine research you wait at least five years.
            And on top of that: the climate research budgets won't fund it anyway as it is completely irrelevant to climate models etc.
            Next try?

    • by aevan (903814)
      Avianpogenic Global Wandering
    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      OK, and this is part of climate change how? They have done it for years, but now it's part of "climate change"?

      Climate change is something that can force the emperor penguins to abandon existing colony sites and find new ones.

    • Re:HUH? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sg_oneill (159032) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:48PM (#47295737)

      OK, and this is part of climate change how? They have done it for years, but now it's part of "climate change"?

      Right. We do the anti-science thing in slashdot these days dont we. *sigh*

      Penguin observations are something I'm fairly closely involved with professionally. That climate change affects penguins isn't controversial amongst researchers, its something we've known for a long time and studies on it go back to the 50s at least. Basically , penguins don't use magic to navigate, but rather fairly detailed memory of environmental conditions and landmarks. "Hey this is where the water turns cold with the shore to my right. I better start swimming south where there are more tasty fish" kind of thing. The problem is, these forms of navigation are super succeptible to environmental change, and whilst climate effects of CO2 are only starting to become widely felt, the effects on the ocean so far have been huge, particularly near the poles Again , none of this is controversial, we know this to be true.

      Now I'm not much of an expert on Emperor penguins (The project I'm working with does obersvations of fairy penguins whos range isn't as far south as the emporers who are strictly ice dudes) but my understanding is they have never been observed to change nesting location so the question is *why*. Well Antarctic is interesting in that it doesn't change an awful lot, theres not a LOT of variables at play here , but one BIG change is that warmer currents coming in caused by climate change (Some marine biologists joke that climate change should be could 'sea change' because it tends to dispropirtionately affect oceans, and a 'sea change' might be your career path if you do climate science and the fundamentalist right regains power and starts defunding evolutionary biologists and climate physics again).

      So its a guess that its the cause, but its a good guess because it seems the most likely candidate, all things considered.

      • by top_down (137496)

        OK, and this is part of climate change how? They have done it for years, but now it's part of "climate change"?

        Right. We do the anti-science thing in slashdot these days dont we. *sigh*

        Instead of carefully reading the article you just make up your own convenient conclusions.

        You say that 'Emperor penguins [...] have never been observed to change nesting location so the question is *why*' . The authors of the study challenge this notion. That is what the FINE article is about.

        Relevant quote:
        “Our resea

      • by NetNed (955141)
        Never been observed? The story says it's been observed for years. Didn't you RTFA? Also, the average ocean temp is about 1 degrees higher then it was in 1880, so I am going to have to doubt that a penguins sense of temp is so sensitive that it can pick up as much as a 1/2 a degree of temp change.
    • Agree. They've probably gone to find new breeding grounds to get away from all of the biologists and global warming botherers who keep disturbing them.
  • No Evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @04:26PM (#47294645)
    Any connection to "climate change" was purely speculative on the part of the article writer.

    The research actually suggested that Emperor Penguins always had changed locations periodically. There is no evidence that modern times are in any way different.

    The only thing this is "evidence" of is that lots of people today will try to blame anything and everything on "climate change".
    • Re:No Evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:03PM (#47294771)

      Actually, it used to be speculated that changes in nesting populations of Emperor Penguins might have been due to Climate Change. Instead, this particular research indicates that those changes might be fairly normal migrations between nesting sites.

      What we have here is science using new data to falsify an old assumption. Science to the rescue! As is article-reading.

      • I did read the article and the original article from which the linked article got its information.

        You are making the same point I was, in different words. But my comment was about OP, in particular.

        The original article [umn.edu] does not even contain the word "climate", much less "climate change".
    • Any connection to "climate change" was purely speculative on the part of the article writer

      Indeed. It was probably the mortgage bubble that was responsible for this.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @04:29PM (#47294661)

    Perhaps " If we assume that these birds come back to the same locations every year, without fail" is wrong. Perhaps they go to the best location they can find?

  • by cirby (2599) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @04:54PM (#47294735)

    ...they got tired of all of the scientists following them around, year after year, tagging them and annoying the kids.

    "Y'know, Marge, this place is just getting too touristy for me. Let's go somewhere quiet, farther down the beach."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Underwater volcanoes, not climate change, reason behind melting of West Antarctic Ice Sheet

    http://www.techtimes.com/articles/8278/20140610/underwater-volcanoes-climate-change-reason-melting-west-antarctic-ice.htm

    • by schwit1 (797399)

      Just another inconvenient truth.

    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      Well it's not volcanoes that are underwater but volcanoes that are under the ice sheets. And they are not the only thing causing those ice sheets to melt, just one factor.

  • They thought decreasing numbers were due to birds dying, but they were actually due to birds changing breeding locations (for unknown reasons).

    Basically, and contrary to the headline, the article says they don't know enough about penguin breeding behavior to draw any conclusions.

    "Over five years in the late 1970s, the Southern Ocean warmed and at the same time the penguin colony at Pointe Géologie, declined by half (6,000 breeding pairs to 3,000 breeding pairs). The decline was thought to be due to decreased survival rates. In other words, researchers thought that the warming temperatures were negatively impacting the survival of the species...'It’s possible that birds have moved away from Pointe Géologie to these other spots and that means that maybe those banded birds didn’t die,' LaRue said. 'If we want to accurately conserve the species, we really need to know the basics. We’ve just learned something unexpected, and we should rethink how we interpret colony fluctuations.'”

    P.S. Want to know why people are skeptical about climate change "science" and advocacy? It's because of blurbs like this one that say one thing in the headline and something else in the linked-to article.
    • "Over five years in the late 1970s, the Southern Ocean warmed." Warming temperatures over a period of years is by definition climate change. If I write 1+1=2, I'm still doing arithmetic even if I don't specifically call it "arithmetic." True there's no advocacy-ready insinuation of man-made global warming being at fault, but that's not what the headline says either. It's an accurate encapsulation of what is in the article.

      And don't know where you're getting "for unknown reasons" from. The only material

  • by fygment (444210) on Monday June 23, 2014 @07:36AM (#47297147)

    It is a simple observational practice with no first principles and a singular assumption: animals are mindless automatons.
    With that one assumption, biologists are consistently surprised by what they observe.
    Given enough time/resources/interest, they may observe enough to get true understanding.
    Unfortunately, they will never ever have enough time/resources/interest.

    Biology isn't pointless, but don't call it a science.

"The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, preserved their neutrality." -- Dante

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