Penguins in Antarctica Forced to Find New Breeding Grounds

Penguins in Antarctica Forced to Find New Breeding Grounds

A new research has revealed that climate change has forced penguins in Antarctica to migrate permanently in search of new breeding grounds. Many of them now do not return to the same spot to mate year after year.

This climate-driven march is being tracked by scientists after studying the penguins' poop stains. The bird's dark droppings against a gleaming white backdrop of ice tell scientists about every move of the birds.

Emperor penguins are known as philopatric species because they come back to the same spot every year for breeding. However, rising temperatures and receding ice sheets have affected the penguin's nature.

The permanent migration of the penguins from Antarctica due to climate change was first noticed by Michelle LaRue, a research fellow at the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. LaRue found that the penguins abandoned new colony about 120 miles south of a breeding ground after the ice melted.

She found after looking into easy-to-spot poop stains on the Antarctic ice and snow that the penguins have moved to other breeding grounds due to rise in temperatures. The ocean temperature climbed around Antarctica in the 1970s and that was the time when the colony size reduced by half. The researchers thought that the penguins were killed by the warming temperatures and receding ice. However, it was later determined that the colony had actually moved to different breeding grounds.

"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", said Michelle LaRue, a research associate in the University's Department of Earth Sciences.

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