Is climate change killing Magellanic penguins?

‘Increasing storminess bodes ill not only for Magellanic penguins but for many other species …’

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New research suggests that some penguin colonies are likely to see direct impacts from climate change. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A 27-year study of Magellanic penguins at Punta Tombo, Argentina, offers convincing evidence that climate change is killing penguin chicks, as the starving young birds succumb to increasing rainfall during stormy weather and, at other times, heat.

The University of Washington biologists who led the study say their findings are proof that climate change is directly responsible for penguin mortality — not just indirectly by depriving them of food, as has repeatedly been documented by other research.

Other recent research has shown similar impacts to white pelicans at their breeding grounds in North Dakota, and climate change is also disrupting breeding of migratory songbirds.

The research is based on careful chick counts at breeding sites and analyses of regional weather weather data showing that storminess increased between 1983 and 2010. Along with showing climate change impacts, the researchers said their finding show the need to create a protected area to at least ensure an adequate food supply for the chicks that do survive. Continue reading

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